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Old 03-03-2010, 02:05 PM   #1
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Default Small scale Hop production

So I’m looking into starting a small production for myself on some unused land I have. My question is realistically how many hop plants can one person manage on their own by hand (no machines). From care/ maintenance to harvest and packaging? Let me know what you guys are doing and what kind of time is involved?

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Old 03-03-2010, 02:25 PM   #2
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I am intrested in finding out also.

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Old 03-03-2010, 04:20 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Nickeldeposit View Post
So I’m looking into starting a small production for myself on some unused land I have. My question is realistically how many hop plants can one person manage on their own by hand (no machines). From care/ maintenance to harvest and packaging? Let me know what you guys are doing and what kind of time is involved?

I've got 14 plants distributed on 2 parallel lines (about 30 ft long)... it's about all I can handle in addition to all my other "duties". Initial stringing in the spring (i don't leave my coir rope out on the lines all winter) and harvest/drying are the most time consuming things. Otherwise it is monitoring, training, trimming excess bines, digging up the crown every couple years and trimming it...
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:33 PM   #4
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That’s the info I was looking for. I was thinking 12-16 plants. What varieties have you got and what kind of production do you get from each plant/ variety?

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Old 03-03-2010, 05:08 PM   #5
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Are you in this by yourself or could you get/hire some decent help?

You have two big hurtles to overcome. First is setting up the hopyard and the second is harvesting. Watering, nutrients and other maintenance is easy enough.

You can imagine the amount of time you will spend planting 20 foot poles 4 feet in the ground, running cabeling, tying off twine, etc. If you are putting in more than a handful, you probably also want to put in some form of irrigation so you don't end up spending your entire summer watering.

For harvest, we've seen around 20 to 30 minutes to harvest a fully mature bine by hand. That's assuming you have dedicated motivated labor that is paid to produce. If you are talking volunteers, don't expect to see that unless they are only doing 1 to 2 bines.

Depending on how you plant, on an acre you can fit 1,000 to 1,200 rhizomes. do the math on the time and labor rate and you will discover hand harvesting is not necessarily economically sustainable. The good news is that mechanical harvesting equipment is fairly easy to manufacture. Separation of leaves and stems from the cones though is a bit harder. I don't have that 100% figured out.

Other nuggets of wisdom for you:

- Almost forget about doing it for this year. WA isn't selling rhizomes in mass out of the state, so its almost impossible to get more than a dozen rhizomes of any kind.

- That's OK, because that gives you a year to set up your trellis, amend your soil and get ready.

- What are you going to do for sales/processing? Some brewers will take whole cone (sometimes even for a wetharvest ale, so no drying) but its rare. You need to figure out a way to pelletize or at least make hop plugs and then vacuum pack them.

I'm not trying to dissuade you. Raising hops commercially is a blast. We've been doing it for a couple of years now. I just wish I could go back in time and warn myself of all the mistakes I was about to make and the "little" things I was about to overlook.

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Old 03-03-2010, 06:12 PM   #6
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GVH Dan:

Thanks for the great info and facts. But I'm not looking at getting into the market of large scale operation. I'm just running one trellis line (80') for now with a few varieties spaced as needed for my own/ friends use. The time to de-cone per plant is really helpful though.

Thanks

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Old 03-03-2010, 06:36 PM   #7
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That’s the info I was looking for. I was thinking 12-16 plants. What varieties have you got and what kind of production do you get from each plant/ variety?

Mine will be 3rd year and this will be my first full season on the trellis (late installation last year after being staked the 1st year). I had a few ounces dried from each. Of the 14 plants I think I have:
2x Centennial
2x Nugget
2x Golding
2x Fuggle
Mt Hood
Willamette
Magnum
Cascade
Chinook
Crystal

If I get full production this year I will likely need to build an oast of some kind and have a general plan for that.


and I +1 vote for Dan's suggestion about drip irrigation. Not terribly expensive or time consuming to set up if you have a readily available water source and it will help immensely if you have dry spells.


And if you can get rhizomes this year, get 2 of the smaller ones (the ones they sell at NB or Midwest) per mound or one of the Jumbo from freshops per mound. Even if you don't get a trellis up this year and stake them on 6-8 ft poles, it will give the root system a good head start and the next year will be better than starting from scratch IMO.
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Old 03-03-2010, 06:57 PM   #8
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Dan may be seeing some commercial quantity restrictions or volume issues for rhizomes, but NB, Freshops, and Midwest all have decent selections still available.

I personally have been happiest with my orders from Freshops and I have ordered from Thyme garden (my #2 preference), NB, Midwest, and one other place I can't recall in order to get the varieties I wanted.

http://www.freshops.com/cgi-bin/shop.../rhizomes.html

http://www.thymegarden.com/site/561124/page/217466

http://www.midwestsupplies.com/homeb...-rhizomes.html

http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewin...a8a5b3dbe6bc58


The percentage of dead or without growth bud rhizomes received from both Midwest and NB was unacceptable, IMO. Better off dealing directly with the supplier at the source.

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:21 PM   #9
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I just want the snow gone and the sun to step forward.

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:24 PM   #10
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I just want the snow gone and the sun to step forward.
Amen, brother.

In Ames you ought to be able to get some composted manure if your soil isn't already pretty awesome, no?
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