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Old 10-14-2010, 04:16 AM   #1
chip82
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Default Going to start growing hops

Hello all those knowledgeable in the field of hops (terrible pun intended),

I have reached the point in my adventures in home brewing and would like to start growing hops. I live in south central SD, with sandy soil, and we happen to have a farm, so space is not an issue. Also, we had some old utility poles take out a few years ago and the city never picked them up. Well that is the back story, now for the questions.

Are hops grow-able in the sand hills?
How can i utilize these poles to make a hop trellis?

My brother and I will, hopefully, figure out what kind(s) of hops we want to grow soon, at least before the spring.

Thanks in advance for any input,
Chip



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Old 10-14-2010, 04:27 AM   #2
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How tall are the poles? And how many do you have? If you only have a few, I've always been a fan of standing them up about 25' high and extending lines out from the top of the pole in a circular pattern.



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Old 10-14-2010, 04:39 AM   #3
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We guess they would be 20-25 feet out of the ground. Also, we have 2 poles.

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Old 10-14-2010, 12:36 PM   #4
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I would run some stiff wire, like clothesline wire, over the two poles, with some way to let it down for tying on the string and harvesting. The space between would be dependant on how tight you can get the line and how many plants you plan on putting up.
As far as the sandy soils go, I would think you would have to be pretty vigilant on watering. I am in Manitoba, with heavier clay soils, and the wettest year we have had in a LONG time, and there were still days that I had to give them extra water.
Figure out what varieties you want and keep a close eye out around April, when the rhizomes are being put up for sale, and act quick when you see them, the sell out very fast.

Good Luck.

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Old 10-14-2010, 02:12 PM   #5
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here is a great source of info for you that explains the basics of hop growing from a production standpoint: http://www.crannogales.com/HopsManual.pdf

the sandy soil you have can create problems due to leaching of nutrients but that problem is easier to fix than the alternative of heavy clay soils. just make sure you amend the sand with a bunch of organic matter to help hold nutrients and make sure you topdress each year with a good shot of manure/compost etc. to replenish any that have leached over the course of the growing season. good luck and have fun!

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Old 10-14-2010, 03:39 PM   #6
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That manual is a pretty good resource.

Question: do you have the ability to reach the top of the 20 ft pole? (you will be burying like 5-10 feet of it for stability). Is it a ladder? A bucket truck? That could make a diff. on your trellis design.

With two poles, I can think of two options.
1) what SuthrnComfort said; use the pole as a center pole and have your twine coming off of it in a circle. Attach those to the ground about 7 ft away from the center pole. Its like making a teepee. (pg. 22 on that pdf, just use more twines off the pole)
This method is nice because it is compact and you can have your two "teepee's" in two diff. areas if needed. And you could dedicate each teepee to a hop variety (I would only use one variety per teepee, or maybe two, with one on ea. side)

2) Or you can have the two poles as a support for a long wire going between them, like on the top of pg. 23 in the pdf.
This method is more like how the pro's do it, but if you don't have the ability to get to the top of the wire to remove the hops for harvesting I wouldn't choose this method.

With the first option, you could just lean an extension ladder up ea. pole at harvest time and easily remove ea. set of bines.

Remember, you will have to get the bines back down at some point in time!

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Old 10-14-2010, 05:16 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the answers.

We are kinda leaning towards doing the teepee style trellis right now. As for reaching the top we have either a couple of ladders, including an extension ladder, or the bucket of a tractor that we can stand in. For us, getting to the top won't be much of a problem.

I am curious as to how most of you guys harvest. Do you cut the vines off and harvest, or do you pick the individual hops and let the vines keep going? I think this might play a role in our design of the trellis we make.

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Old 10-14-2010, 05:36 PM   #8
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back in the early 90's, a gas well was installed at the farm i was working at. the contractor left a bunch of 40 foot lengths of 2 inch pipe behind. i ended up cutting them into 8 foot lengths and drove them about 4 feet into the ground. found some tall, thin straight trees growing along the woods and strapped them to the pipe. the hops are growing about 2 feet away from each pipe. hops are trained to climb up the pole above where it is strapped to the pipe. at harvest, the poles are unlashed from the pipe, laid down and picked. after picking, they are reattached to the pipes and allowed to continue growth until they die back. i was never really big on the whole trellis system and especially now that my arial acrobatic abilities are beginning to diminish as age continues to creep up! i know everyone doesn't have the resources mentioned, but it works for me. have at it.

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Old 10-14-2010, 06:18 PM   #9
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One method i have been toying with in my head is to have some sort of pulley system on top of the poles that is attached to the top of the twine so i could raise and lower the hops for picking. I am not sure how effective this system could be, though.

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Old 10-14-2010, 06:20 PM   #10
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B-Hoppy: I don't think I get what you are saying. Did you cut down the thin trees to make extensions for the poles? Or are the pipes attached to the trees by a wire/twine? What is the total height of your bines?

From experience, you get the most yield if you allow for vertical growth, once you force the hops to go horizontal, they produce less cones at that point.

You live in SD, so I don't know how early the first frost is, so you will probably be sufficient in doing an "all-at-once" harvest, cutting down the bines and picking the cones at the same time.

I live in the hot and dirty south, so I get 2-3 harvests every year; one in august, one in october, then sometimes one in december!! That's our long-ass growing season! So, I pick the cones off the bines and never cut down the bines until it is "cold" outside (read in the 50 F during the day, which is like late Dec./early Jan)

I use camping/cheap carabiners to attach my twine to the top. At harvest you just unhook the carabiners and drop the bines to the ground.



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