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-   -   Just getting started.. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/just-getting-started-331940/)

PariahVineyard 05-29-2012 11:47 PM

May as well dive in head first.
We have been homebrewing for about a year now. Last year, we bought 26 acres to try and grow our own hops. We're in central PA and planted 150 rhizomes this past Spring. 50 Nugget, 50 Columbus and 50 Cascade.

We used trees from around our property to make the posts. The shortest post/tree was 18' and after setting them we got about 14' 8" posts out of the ground.


We used eye hooks screwed into the top of the post and strung the wire with 1/4" braided steel wire across the top. It's anchored to 4 foot earth anchors on each side of the run which is 150' down each row. We then used a potato (middle buster) plow to make a trench on each side of the row and planted into those rows.


This the whole area after it's all been planted, the twine is up, and the plants are starting to grow..



And a sample plant..


This photo is from about 2 weeks ago. We have some that are now almost 3-4 feet tall and have installed drip irrigation.

This is our first year/first attempt. We're feeling pretty confident.. so far, things are going pretty well. Any advice or words of wisdom would be great!

Indianhead_Brewer 06-01-2012 02:37 PM

Nice! Great idea using the trencher to get your furrows set for planting. What species of trees are you using for poles? Around here people swear by black locust as being the best for longevity.

I was looking at your second to last picture and couldn't tell if you had any anchor lines perpendicular to your runs. Depending on how bad your winds get you might want to think about putting a few cross lines that anchor perpendicular to your runs just to give you some extra stability.

Great pictures! Good luck with your venture.

snevey 06-01-2012 03:15 PM

Glad to see a hop farmer in Central PA. Have you contacted any of the many local micro/nano breweries offering them hops for sale? Just curious. I've always toyed with starting a small scale hop farm in the area. I have two standing invitations for an acre or two of land to get started from both sides of my in laws. They both have access to a stream for irrigation purposes, and both farms are currently being farmed.

PariahVineyard 06-01-2012 04:02 PM

We really couldn't be selective with which trees we used since we have mostly farm land. Most are hard woods and should last a few years. The end posts almost killed us when we put them up, they are probably a ton a piece. I would love to get some black locust but they don't grow much around here. When we plant next year the state forest said they will supply some trees for us at a minimal price, I think yellow pine is what he said but don't quote me on that.

I was thinking about anchoring down the end posts but wanted to see how this worked out first. There is a nice wind block on the east and south side of the hops and one pretty close to the west side so I am hoping we will be okay.

We met a local guy here in Halifax who has 200 hops and will be working with him to sell our hops once we have a supply. We plan on planting more next year so I would like to talk to Troegs to see if they would be interested.

Snevey, you should just dive into it. It isn't very difficult (not yet at least) and is fun actually since we planted them mainly to have fresh hops for us and our friends.

Indianhead_Brewer 06-01-2012 04:37 PM

Nice to see you using the resources you already have.....definitely a great way to keep costs down. Yeah, black locust is a pain to find. We had a few huge thunderstorms come through our area last summer and take out a lot of forest land, I have been meaning to ask some of the logging companies who have been clearing slash to see if they come across any black locust in their cleanup efforts.

I would imagine you will be OK with the wind. I have just gotten really paranoid since last summer the winds were killer (literally) and this spring we have already had at least a half dozen or more storms come through with 50+ mph winds. Have heard some horror stories of trellis collapses.

GoodRatsBrew 06-01-2012 06:54 PM

Just a thought to try and get some mulch around the plants to help with the weed control. Nice setup.

PariahVineyard 06-01-2012 07:54 PM

I will probably take your advice and put in at least one guy wires one the end posts. I don't feel like putting posts up again this year.

These weeds are horrible. It was an unused section of the farm for many years and the soil is very rich but the weeds grow about 4-5 feet tall and harden off after about a month of growing. I'm not sure what they are but I want to put down straw to suppress them, and I hope it will stop them. I have to wait for the farmer to harvest some first. We also looked at getting mushroom soil but the cheapest i can get it delivered is $10 a yard and I have to get 55 yards at a time.

Thanks for the feedback!

GoodRatsBrew 06-02-2012 08:11 PM

Check with a local landscaper for grass clippings... Put those nice abd heavy...

PariahVineyard 06-12-2012 05:45 PM

I have two questions that you might be able to help us out with.

1. We are debating ordering the last of the rhizomes from a western hopfarm and planting them in pots until next year. We would then offer them as 2 year old hops next year. Anything we don't sell we would plant in our hop field and would have a head start on the season since they would be in their second year already. Does anyone have any insight on this?

2. The rhizomes we bought this year aren't growing very tall. About 5-8 plants are over 5 feet and most of the rest are under 2 feet. Is this normal for first year hops? I am concerned that the tiny rhizomes we received are a direct cause of the short vines.

PariahVineyard 06-27-2012 01:54 AM

We went ahead and ordered rhizomes late in the season. Instead of in the ground, we planted them in these pots. We planted them last Tuesday and they're already growing. We plan on selling them and whatever doesn't sell, we will add to our hopyard. The hopyard is pictured below. Besides all the weeds, they seem to be growing pretty well.

Our total inventory includes the following types:

In pots: Centennial, Cascade, Mt. Hood, Galena, and Magnum.

In the hopyard: Centennial, Nugget, and Columbus.





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