Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Hop growing in the DDR (part 1)

One big problem facing the DDR brewing industry in its early days was a lack of locally-grown hops.

Hops had been grown on the territory of the DDR in the past, but by the middle of the 20th century, this was no longer the case. The remaining hop-growing regions were all in West Germany, mostly in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg.

The answer was to start up hop growing again in the East.

"1.4.1. Growing areas
Due to the division of Germany after the Second World War, the traditional hop-growing areas in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg were separated from the DDR. Previously, valuable foreign currency had to be spent on importing hops. In order to avoid this and to become independent in this area as well, in 1951 hops were again cultivated in the districts of Magdeburg - Halle - Erfurt - Suhl - Gera - Leipzig - Dresden - Karl-Marx-Stadt.

One could fall back on old experiences, since hops had already been grown here about 160 years before. In the meantime, the successes have shown that it is possible to grow hops in the southern districts of the Republic and that these hops are qualitatively equal to other noble hops.

With this in-house production, our trade also makes itself independent of the large price fluctuations to which hops are subject in capitalist countries as a result of yield fluctuations and other manipulations.

For example, it cost 1 dt of hops in West Germany

1957 800-900 DM,
1958 up to 2400 DM.

In 1959 prices were kept so low that production costs could not be covered. Quite a number of hop growers burned the unpicked crop because the cost of picking exceeded the selling price. During this period, 70 farms covering an area of ​​370 hectares were ruined every day in West Germany by these crises.

The agricultural policy of our state, on the other hand, ensures a planned increase in production in agriculture, the full sale of the products and thus increasing income for those employed in agriculture.

Since 1951, hop cultivation has developed vigorously in the southern districts of the republic, as the following tables show."
"Technologie Brauer und Mälzer" by Wolfgang Kunze, VEB Fachbuchverlag Leipzig, 2nd edition, 1967, page 43.

See how much better a planned economy is than capitalist anarchy? Look at those crazy hop prices. Obviously, such big increases in price would have been a big problem for the DDR, which had limited amounts of hard currency at its disposal.

As the text says, the new hop gardens were planted in the South and the East. Erfurt, Suhl and Gera are in Thuringen; Leipzig, Dresden and Karl-Marx-Stadt in Saxony; Magdeburg in Mecklenberg-Vorpommern; Halle in Sachsen-Anhalt.

Next time we'll see how many hops were grown and where.



Anonymous said...

Surprising to me that Czechoslovakia wasn't the preferred source for hops. Perhaps the Czech hops commanded too high a price on the international market?

Rob Sterowski said...

I imagine the Czechs were quite keen on selling their surplus hops elsewhere for hard currency.