The best small scale hop processing video ever
Hi Hopfarmer. Great Video!
You are obviously an expert on the topic and I am brand new to hops growing. I typically just purchase hop pellets from my local HBS for brewing. I am however moving towards all grain brewing and would love to start another hobby assocaited with brewing, such as hops growing. I have a few questions if you would be gracious enough to share your knowledge with me.
I live in Michigan, so obviously we are subjected to all 4 seasons from hot/ humid summers to frigid sub-zero winters. I have 2 1/2 acres of land and would like to put in a hops garden. I plan on stripping the sod, tilling the soil, incorporating composted top soil and fertilizer, tilling again, and then planting rhizomes. I have plenty of room to space the plants 4 to 5 feet apart and plan on building high line system for the hops to grow up. The area is already irrigated by my sprinkler system. I have sandy loam soil on my property with a vein of clay soil on one side, which was discovered by multiple perk tests before I build my house.
Here are my questions:
What hops would do well in Michigan?
Do hops growers have problems with deer and rabbits destroying their crop, because I have both on my property (I can fence if needed)?
Is is already too late to consider planting for this year (today is 5/12/11)?
What are the ideal soil conditions for hops growth?
Forgive me if these are stupid questions, but I'm new to hops growing and cultivation and am trying to learn as much as I can about the topic. Thanks for any responses you have or to anyone else that happens to read this post and wants to chime in. :mug:
If you are seriously thinking about putting in that many hops, you should investigate who your gonna sell all these to and what they want. Talk to your local brew pubs. Personally, I would recommend aromatic or dual purpose hops - the bittering varieties are relatively cheap per pound. Also consider the equipment you need to grow, harvest, and maintain them. (Ever hand dig an acre of hops?) Rhizome removal is an annual event. Pest/ disease control in a hop yard is not the same as having 3 or 4 in your backyard- plan on a program of spraying for mildew and insect control. Rhizomes are available only in the spring, but I produce plants for hopyard plantings spring, summer, and fall by contract. Gorst Valley has a lot of good info at their site, also. In fact, all the members here will bend over backwards to help you.
I don't mean to discourage you -just be realistic and understand having a hop yard is similar to a vineyard - it's farming and its a lot of hard work and sweat - it's certianly no get rich quick plan. Take it slow and do your homework- it will save a lot of tears and frustration later. Hope you join us!
You are not kidding about the hard work.Not to mention 10 to 12k pr/acre in trellis system.I am in year 4 and yet to produce a full crop-got hailed on last year-I do get free beer.Unfortunately that does not pay the bills.I would suggest coming to our hop and brew school july 16-17 Cheers glen
Oh hell no guys! .....I should have been more clear. :cross: I don't plan on putting in 2 1/2 acres worth, just a small hops garden. I was simply saying that I have 2 1/2 acres of land which has different soil conditions, some silty sand and some clay. I have a couple of different places where I can put this thing was what I was getting at. I only plan on putting in 4 or 5 rhizomes, sorry for not being clear. I already own several PT practices and have no intentions on going into the Hops business! :D Just wanted to ask a few questions to get myself on the right path. I still would appreciate some answers to my original post if you guys get a chance. Sorry for the confusion. :mug:
LOL. Wise man, I know a part time semi pro and this business ain't easy. I'm a full time amateur and it still ain't easy.
---------What hops would do well in Michigan?
I would grow what you use. Forget about where you are and issues of weather and climate. Hops like to grow, so grow something you use.
When I started 3 years ago, I bought four plants that were available to me. My Chinook and Cascade get used a lot. My Sterling, I grow just because it's there. Mt. Hood, I use it a bit.
My 2nd year I put in 13 more plants, all different varieties. Some produced, some didn't. I had the land and I decided "I'll have options." Three years into this hobby, I'm a significantly better brewer and I've learned I'm growing a bunch of hops I don't use and a few hops I use a lot. My plan is to either remove or move the plants I don't care for much and focus on the gals I like a lot. I have a 3 cascade plants and I would like to build a Randall that I can fill with an abundance of free hops all year round. That's living. To do that, I may need another plant! :)
-------Do hops growers have problems with deer and rabbits destroying their crop, because I have both on my property (I can fence if needed)?
I have a privacy fence so no deer issues. I think I've read that some guys have issues. My hops are grown in my raised garden. Maybe the other plants distract the rabbits, but I've never had an issue with animals eating my hops. The only thing that eats my hops are Japanese Beetles, which I curse! Damn you to hell Japanese Beetles!
-----------Is is already too late to consider planting for this year (today is 5/12/11)?
I think barring frozen ground, it's never to late to plant. What you don't produce this year, will ideally help you next year. If you plant today, I think in ideal circumstances you'll get 'something'- say an ounce or two dry (maybe). But the first year is all about learning what to do. Year two, you'll tweak your method and correct your first mistakes. Year three, (at least for me) things will start to move smoothly (if I get that Oast built). If you can get some rhizomes, go for it. Just remember this is a foundation year. Don't have high expectations and you'll be fine.
-----------What are the ideal soil conditions for hops growth?
I'm not an expert here, but I can tell you a few things. I'm a huge composter, I amend all my soil with compost. I burn clean wood and I add the ash to my compost. I'm in IL, a lot of clay in my area. My soil is great, and my hops grow well. I have a neighbor who also grows hops. Same clay soil. No amendments. Just garden top soil. It took longer for his hops to develop, but before he gave them up (to me) these plants were huge- larger than a 5 gallon bucket. When we dug up his plants we noticed that if the plant couldn't grow down due to the clay, it grew 'out'. He did seem to have any tap roots, but he had these 5' to 8' runners under ground. That is, his plants were shallow, but massive wide. The point is, this plant really wants to live. If there is a way to grow, it'll find it. So by all means shoot for healthy soil, mulch to retain moisture, and water and these plants will do their best.
I love this hobby, more than brewing. I get to be outside, I see results everyday, I have things to tinker with and bitch about and end of season I have free hops. My SMASH beers (single malt and single hop) involve just the cost of grain. The local home brew store wants to try selling my hops end of season. If I can get my surplus hops to pay for my grain, this hobby will be virtually free. I feel like I'm living the homebrewer's dream. I love growing hops.
Wow! Thanks for all of the great information. I would certainly lean towards growing what I know and use a lot such as Centennial and Cascade. Unfortunately, two of my other favorite kinds of hops, Amarillo and Citra, are proprietary hops that can't be grown at home. I'm not a hop expert and I am still relatively new in the grand scheme of things with homebrewing. I'm not a hops expert and am trying to learn. If I could grow Centennial and Cascade and a couple of higher AAU hops that are along the very citrusy line like Amarillo or Citra....I would be set! Any suggestions on a non-proprietary hops that is really close to these two? :tank:
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