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-   -   starting a hop farm 2 acres to start..then double every year till i hit 32 acres (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/starting-hop-farm-2-acres-start-then-double-every-year-till-i-hit-32-acres-333146/)

rudds67 06-04-2012 05:32 PM

starting a hop farm 2 acres to start..then double every year till i hit 32 acres
 
Hey guys just as the title says...started this thread from the advice of a few guys in " the 2012 show us yr hopyard ".I hav 1800 plants in pots this year as I will setting them out in the field hopfully later the montth...using this as a grow log for my self and others to learn and grow... and to log my progress or my failures....this is my first year growing hops..howver been growing for over 15 years.live on a 150 acre farm in upstate newyork.. questions comments all welcome..as I have help from the state hop specialist plus I hav visited a few hop farms out. west (portland,or) at the end of the winter to get an idea of what I'm in for.... thanks all.... also will be experimenting in a few different types of propagation techniques for hops... air layering, top stem cuttings and middle stem cuttings using humidity domes and heating pads
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rudds67 06-05-2012 02:59 PM

5 Attachment(s)
As for types...I hav 650 sterling, 550 nugget, 300 cascade, 250 williaimette, 100 perle, 55 centenials and 100 columbus.... this year is just the trial year of the types of hops...then next year I get serous. .. most likely will be growing only the types of hops used for the craft brew markets... but I travel 3 months out of the year so now in my travels I will focus on collecting hop varieties from all over the world and create some sort of world hop yard...

PleasantValleyHops 06-05-2012 04:15 PM

Holy buckets. Ill be joining u w a thread soon as well w just about 2 acres as well. Subscribed! Good luck man.!!

BBL_Brewer 06-05-2012 04:22 PM

How are large hop yards harvested? Also, is there a way to mechanically prune back new growth or do you just let them run wild? I have a handfull of plants and just can't imagine tending something that big. Always wondered how the big dogs do it.

jww9618 06-05-2012 04:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BBL_Brewer (Post 4145542)
How are large hop yards harvested? Also, is there a way to mechanically prune back new growth or do you just let them run wild? I have a handfull of plants and just can't imagine tending something that big. Always wondered how the big dogs do it.

Hops Direct has a Youtube channel that is pretty interesting. They a couple videos on how they harvest their hops. http://www.youtube.com/user/hopsdirect

rudds67 06-05-2012 05:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BBL_Brewer (Post 4145542)
How are large hop yards harvested? Also, is there a way to mechanically prune back new growth or do you just let them run wild? I have a handfull of plants and just can't imagine tending something that big. Always wondered how the big dogs do it.

Haha that's a good question...havnt figured that out yet.( scratching my head). Lol..hm. we I do hav a 40 foot bucket truck on the farm so that will play a key roll..that and a modified 20 foot landscape trailer...but I was thinking of buying one of those huge silo trucks farmers use to move large amounts of grass from the field to the farm .iwill be trucking the plants about 40 mins away to a harvester location(thank God) its a wolf harvester...can do 160 bines an hour... down the road when I get past 5 acres I will be buying one my self.and leasing it out.

GVH_Dan 06-05-2012 05:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rudds67 (Post 4145294)
As for types...but I travel 3 months out of the year so now in my travels I will focus on collecting hop varieties from all over the world and create some sort of world hop yard...

Good luck with the yard. Just a few hints from someone who has been living the "dream" for several years now:

- Make sure you leave at least 6 feet between varieties. They will hit the top wire and travel. Once they get mixed together, you have no idea which variety is which. We have been sent samples to our lab to test that were clearly mixed up. Varieties that have an alpha range from 4 to 6 coming in at over 11%. No way.

- Get the earth amended and the trellis/irrigation in before you drop those plants in the ground. Otherwise I guarantee that no matter how careful you are, plants will get squished, dug up, and your map of where plants are will get messed up.

- Decide now how you are going to pick, dry, process, package and sell your product. You don't want to be in the situation of having spent all day picking and then trying to decide how to dry them.

- If you are bring in varieties from oversees, make sure you have all the USDA permits in place. They don't take kindly to illegal imports of plant material

boscobeans 06-05-2012 05:48 PM

How about having a hop harvesting party when the crop is ready. An exploratory discussion with your local HB shop might be a way to get it started. A "best picker team" prize or a few ounces of local hops might be an incentive and a great way to introduce your product to the hombrewers in the area.

Could be a great way to get the job done without too much expense for your farm while it is still in the less than gigantic phase.

http://www.fermentedlychallenged.com/2011/08/win-gabf-tix-by-picking-hops.html

bosco

GVH_Dan 06-05-2012 06:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rudds67 (Post 4145723)
Haha that's a good question...havnt figured that out yet.( scratching my head). Lol..hm. we I do hav a 40 foot bucket truck on the farm so that will play a key roll..that and a modified 20 foot landscape trailer...but I was thinking of buying one of those huge silo trucks farmers use to move large amounts of grass from the field to the farm .iwill be trucking the plants about 40 mins away to a harvester location(thank God) its a wolf harvester...can do 160 bines an hour... down the road when I get past 5 acres I will be buying one my self.and leasing it out.

More advice...the first year, just hand pick. You won't have much more than 10% of your full scale harvest.

After that, you will probably want to grow quickly enough to get to the point where you can purchase your own Wolf. I'm not a fan of sharing pickers, especially ones that are stationary with the hops brought to them. Here's some assumptions to explain why:
1500 plants/acre yield = 1.2lbs/plant dry.
1.2lb/plant dry = 6lbs wet.
6lbs is 20% of the plant wet weight...a mature plant will be about 25 lbs all total
1/3 acre (500 plants) total weight = 12,500 lbs
=>2,500 lbs are wet hops
=>10,000 lbs are soon-to-be-compost bines and leaves
Consider transport costs now. You have to haul 12,500 pounds (6.25 tons) to the harvester and haul 2,500 pounds back for drying. You're not going to do that in a pick-up and small trailer. Expect to pay about $2.50/mile/ton if you are shipping under contract. So 40 miles (I know you said mins, but...) away would be 6.25 tons x 40 miles x $2.50/mile/ton = $625. For the return trip to your dryer, the 1.25 tons would be at least $125, maybe a bit more since it will probably be the same truck.

2,500 lb of wet hops dries to roughly 500 lbs of dry hops, so that is $750/500lb = $1.50/lb in just transportation costs. Add in harvesting costs, drying costs, testing, packaging and that adds up pretty quickly.

On top of all that...if its a shared harvestor, when is it your turn to harvest? I was helping out another group that tried that method. They had to schedule everyone's harvest around the availability of the harvestor not around the peak ripeness of the hops. They ended up with most hops picked too early or too late. Also a lot of growers that were upset because their allotted time was in the middle of the night on a weekday.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to dissuade you from doing this. It has been one of the greatest adventures of my life and I hope you enjoy this just as much. I'm just throwing out a lot of the lessons we learned along the way. Its why we changed our approach and constructed our own harvesting equipment and encourage all of our growers to either fabricate or purchase their own as well. If you can't see the harvestor from your hop yard, you probably shouldn't be sharing harvesting equipment. But run the numbers yourself, check out trucking costs and see how it works out. Maybe its worth it for you to get your own trailer and rent a truck?

GVH_Dan 06-05-2012 06:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by boscobeans (Post 4145861)
How about having a hop harvesting party when the crop is ready. An exploratory discussion with your local HB shop might be a way to get it started. A "best picker team" prize or a few ounces of local hops might be an incentive and a great way to introduce your product to the hombrewers in the area.

Could be a great way to get the job done without too much expense for your farm while it is still in the less than gigantic phase.

Ha, we tried this. Homebrewers show up with cargo pants and fanny packs. They pick for about 2 hours...until they have their pockets shoved full...and then they disappear. Well, unless you have free beer. Then they hang around but productivity goes way down.


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