Originally Posted by rudds67
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?