The Hop Farm Year 2: Planting Hops, Building Hop Trellises , and Expansion

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A new growth

A new growth

Last year was the first year that my buddy Dave, James, and I planted some hops on James’s Farm.  We got about twenty rhizomes in the ground, and had a pretty tough year with a long hot drought in July.  The harvest last year was a blast (check it out) but the yield was minimal.

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This year, we decided to invest a few more bucks in the project.  We added approximately 80 rhizomes to the farm and now have about 100 plants growing. Here is the breakdown of the types of hops:

Cascade: 38 First year

4 Third year

Centennial: 12 First year

Chinook: 7 first year

Columbus/Zeus: 6 Second year

Mt. Hood:  8 Second year

Nugget: 1 big 3rd year rhizome root structure

Golding: Same as Nugget

Mystery: We have no idea, but it’s a second year

Sterling: 6 Second year

Recently, I rolled up to the farm with 50 hop rhizomes to plant.  For anyone who has grown hops before, you can imagine how much time this could take.  For anyone who hasn’t tried, one hop plant, including planting, making a trellis, running string, etc. can run about 45 – 60 min. This amount of time is absolutely worth it, but doing it 50 times in a row seems more like a punishment than an adventure.  Fortunately, I wasn’t alone and we had many toys to play with.  I have never worked with a caterpillar before, and its remarkable just how much of an impact the proper tools makes on a project.

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Here is how we approached the different aspects of the day:

Planting hops:

1) We stripped the ground of the top layer of dirt and grass. The big caterpillar “Wheel Loader” took care of a 6 by 100 foot area in 10 minutes. CRAZY

2) Put down lots of awesome manure in 2 rows. Again, the caterpillar did this in about 5 trips. I would have died doing this by hand.

3) Form the manure into nice, neat rows with a shovel

4) Plant all the Rhizomes with 2 twines ready to train the shoots from each rhizome

Building Trellises:

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1) Find some big, straight trees in the wooded part of the farm.  About 40 feet tall.  Remove all branches with a chainsaw.

2) Drill a whole in the top of the tree to run metal wire through

3) Dig a 3.5 foot hole with a hand powered hole digging tool (no idea what its called, but you twist it and it digs down)

4) Put the tree in the hole, fill it up, do another

5) Before running the wire through all the trees and fastening it to the ground, loop 2 twines/rhizome around the wire.  Make sure not to tangle them, it sucks untangling something 40 feet about your head.

6) Run the wire through every tree and attach both end to the ground

Expansion: What the fuck am I gonna do with that many hops?

So, the entire layout is the pilot section of what we are hoping to plant the remaining 4 acres of this open field

We did all this work over two weeks ago, as of now, 28 cascade shoots have begun climbing to the sky and all the second year hops are loving the rain/hot sun that has been alternating this year.  Can’t wait for the fall!

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4 responses »

  1. It’s called a post hole digger…
    Yes we are going to harvest by hand with the help of toys and many friends. We are going to excercise our 2nd and 21st amendment rights with a pick ’em and shoot ’em up weekend around Sept 1, 2013. For every hop cone picked; one brass cartridge (and clay pigeon).

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