‘Minor miracle’: Local grower defies odds of drought
A GRANITE Belt hops grower has defied the odds not once but twice in the past four years, this time managing to grow and pick crops in the relentless drought.
Possum Lane Hops owner Rick Humphries has already proved you can grow hops in Queensland, now he’s shown hops can be successfully grown in a drought.
“The drought, the extreme temperatures and the soil moisture has been a great challenge,” Mr Humphries said.
“We managed not only to keep the plants alive, but to get a crop off. It’s a minor miracle.”
The general wisdom around the world is that hops need plenty of water to grow, but Mr Humphries said he was willing to challenge that perception.
“We were really frugal, challenging the perception that you need a stack of water to grow them,” he said.
“The flowers are smaller but the ones we had tested are really intense.
“They may not look brilliant, and they might be smaller than we hoped, but the quality is still there.”
Mr Humphries has had four seasons in the industry, and said this year had been the toughest yet.
“In terms of multiple hits, I think so. Every year we continue to build our knowledge,” he said.
“This has been by far the most challenging year. It’s good to get the rain now, it might be a little bit late for us, but I’m not complaining.
“The main thing is most of our plants survived. This rain we are seeing now will ensure extra growth to give them hopefully more robustness for next season.”
It’s not the first time Mr Humphries has challenged perceptions in the hops industry, being the first successful grower in Queensland.
“There are only two of us in Queensland and we were the first,” he said.
“We are still learning. Obviously going through a drought year has given us lots of things to learn about.
“There is no manual to growing hops in Queensland so it’s a pretty big experiment.
“We can grow them, they produce a good quality hops and the breweries will tell you that they produce great beer.
“There’s no reason we can’t grow hops.”
Mr Humphries is now hoping for consistent rain to see greater success next season.
“Like everybody, we know that we need a lot more rain to break the drought,” he said.