Select Botanicals Group (SBG) recently made the decision to change the name of the Certified Select™ program to Footprints™. The change is designed to more accurately reflect the deeper meaning of SBG's management philosophy. It is truly footprints in the field, from root digging through harvest that enable hop growers to product the highest quality hops possible. Over the next several months, customers can expect to see Certified Select replaced with Footprints. While the name may be changing, the program will remain the same.
Footprints™ is a quality management program administered by Select Botanicals Group (SBG), designed to address ongoing process and quality management improvement. Over the past few years, SBG’s hop varieties have been growing exponentially due to brewer demand, becoming central to our hop portfolio and available selection. The growth of these varieties is largely attributed to the unique approach SBG has taken to both procurement and value added services for growers through the Footprints™ program. In addition, each variety was carefully bred over the course of a decade to ensure quality through resistance to common disease and consistent, competitive yields.
SBG is a member company of Hop Breeding Company (HBC), a research and development organization committed to developing high quality hop varieties. For over 25 years, SBG has annually evaluated thousands of genotypes looking for those that are less susceptible to disease and pest pressures. SBG’s focus on breeding is an exceptionally impactful avenue for improving both hop growing efficiency and quality through new varieties that require less inputs overall. This approach allows SBG to provide fair pricing to brewing customers while ensuring a fair return to our growers as well.
To download a copy of the latest Footprints Semi-Annual Report, click here.
Through Footprints, SBG focuses on improving overall quality of product and process by focusing on several key areas of quality management including product quality, sustainability, traceability, supply and commitment.
SBG works with growers to maintain clean, pure ground for hop varieties to be planted to maintain varietal purity.
- Sites for planting should not have grown hops in the previous year. If there were hops, the ground must be fumigated or SBG varieties must be planted between pole rows.
- Upon approval of clean ground by SBG, the grower's hop yard will be recorded, signed into production and GPS mapped
SBG employs a highly technological rogueing program to remove males and non-true-to-type plants from the hop fields, reducing seed content and increasing varietal purity. Rootstock is propagated from clean hop fields to ensure growers receive rhizomes that are true to type for new acreage or expansions.
- Yards will be scouted throughout the year for off-types.
SBG works with each grower to ensure best management practices are applied to each variety. This includes:
- Optimal training dates
- Integrated pest management
- Soil fertility management
- Optimized harvest windows
Harvest can make or break a hop so SBG requires specific standards on how varieties are harvest to create a consistent, high-quality product not found across any other variety known.
- Aroma hops are dried at lower temperatures (as dictated by individual varietal standards) to preserve oil content.
- Hops must be clean, free of debris, and a consistent green color true to type.
- Kiln depth may not exceed 30" to maintain a uniform dry.
- Moisture rating must be between 8.5% and 10.5%.
SBG is committed to providing brewers with the cleanest, highest-quality hops possible. To maintain this commitment, SBG endorses and requires adherence to the GreenChief® farm quality program developed and administered by Yakima Chief - Hopunion.
- A pre-harvest checklist and audit are designed to help each grower prepare for issues with food safety at harvest.
- An early harvest checklist and audit ensure food safety issues existing prior to harvest have been addressed.
- Ongoing food safety training is required for SBG employees.
It is important for growers, suppliers and brewers alike to know where hops are coming from, and where they are going. As a result, developing key measures for traceability is critical.
- Uniform requirements for pest management records, delivery, and other data reporting
- A central tracking database
- Requirements for hop yard registration and tracking
- Collaboration with handlers to avoid any level of confusion
Cultivating the Next Generation:
There is no better demonstration of the Footprints™ in the field philosophy than SBG’s internship program. To achieve the goal of monitoring every single plant, SBG created an internship program comprised of college students or recent graduates from top agricultural universities across the U.S. who are recruited to work in a field scouting internship program. The paid internships require spending the entire summer learning about hops and working to assure the quality of hops is meeting strict SBG standards.
Success of the Internship Program
- Due to the efforts of SBG interns, 2015 seed content in SBG varieties averaged 0.38% which is less than half of the average seed content for public varieties.
- Interns walked an average of 55 miles per week - that's 110,000 footprints per intern in SBG fields.
- 7,400 acres of SBG managed varieties were monitored
*Ahtanum™ YCR 1 cv, Citra® YCR 394 cv., Ekuanot™ HBC 366 cv., Mosaic HBC 369 cv., Palisade® YCR 4 cv, Simcoe® YCR 14 cv. and Warrior® YCR 5 cv. are registered trademarks of Select Botanicals Group, LLC (Brand YCR) and/or Hop Breeding Company LLC (Brand HBC).
For more information, please visit: www.selecthops.com/certified.html.