- Mar 21, 2008
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Out of curiosity, why sunbeam? Ive never heard of them being used in beer.
All good info Dan. Many of the items youve touched on I have thought about, but its great to hear from an experienced grower. I doubt I will get the entire field up and planted with hops the first year. I dont think I can buy enough hops. Small steps so to speak. What doesnt have hops will have other cropsI'm Dan from Gorst Valley Hops, the second grower mentioned in the article in this month's BYO. I've got to jump in here and offer some advice for NTOLERANCE to save you a lot of headache.
1. If you are going to use the metal poles, make sure you put a good coating on them to prevent rust. A simple can of outdoor furniture Rustoleum will not do it. For at least the part that goes in the ground, look into 2 part enamel products that mix together before application or ceramic based paint. You want something that will give you a hard shell. (You can find these under industrial paints at rustoleum ,Sherwin Williams, etc. They have technical specialists you can call to point you in the right direction.)
2. Start getting those poles in now. We threw in a 1.5 acre field last year and it took all summer to get the hardware up, irrigation in place, etc. If you can get that in now, you are in much better shape.
On that topic, its probably too late at this point but we usually recommend people start with an acre because of all the work. But you sound committed to 3 at this point.
3. Have a harvesting plan in place. You have a window of about 4 days from when the cones are ready until you have to pick. Figure about 1/2 hour to an hour per plant for manual picking (by an adult). So about 10 people/day/acre if they are serious. Many more if they are volunteers.
4. Yes, you can spread out the harvest time by picking different varieties and other methods but don't plan any vacations in August...you will be busy. (A word of warning for those thinking of this, the harvest always falls on the same weekend as your favorite beer festival.)
5. Drying and processing ARE NOT SIMPLE. Trust me on this one. I spent the entire months of August, September and October answering drying questions from growers all over. Heat dries things out quickly, but kills your quality, evaporates your oils and shortens your shelf life. Not drying them sufficiently results in a product that will go bad within hours. I was amazed at how many ways people managed to screw it up.
To answer someone's previous question, if you wanted an oast to dry 1,000 lbs (dry weight), which is about 1/2 acre or more production, that would take about 900 cubic feet of space. If the bed were 18" deep, that would be a space around 20' x 30'
Processing is another story on top of that. Many brewers are being accommodating and taking whole hops and even wet hops, but that won't last when production ramps up. You are going to need to pelletize if for both ease of use and storage volume. A suitable pellet mill runs $40K or more...and then you find out you have to replace many of the parts with stainless steel so it is considered food grade. So add another 3 to 5k.
6. I think when you add everything up, $4/lb is shooting a bit low. You can't and shouldn't be competing with the big boys in the Pacific Northwest on price. I"m not sure where you are located, but if you can deliver a HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT, brewers will usually pay much more than market value. If we were selling for $4/lb, we would be out of business by now. The key is keeping quality up which means good growing practices, proper drying, harvesting, packaging, testing/analysis and storage.
I've heard others talk about focusing on the homebrewing market because of the higher premium. Yes, homebrewers pay a premium but its a market that is harder to reach, has smaller demand and (as has been pointed out) is much harder to package for. Frankly, you quickly tire of measuring out 1 oz, 2oz, 5 oz, etc. pacakges and individually sealing them. It is so much quicker to weigh out 44 pounds, dump it in a bag and seal away. With 3 acres, you could have as much as 6,000 lbs of hops in a few years. Even if you find avid homebrewers that consume 5 lbs/year...that's 1,200 homebrewers. And that assumes you have exactly what they want. I can't even keep my dad happy with 8 varieties.
7. Finally, get you rhizome orders in now. If you wait until Feb to put in orders of 100 or more, you will probably be out of luck.
At first I wasnt sure I wanted rhizomes. Jungs Seeds near me sells plants....cadcade, nugget, willamette and one more... I forget, goldings maybe? I talked to them about a 50 plant buy, and they seemed willing to deal on the price ($8.95 retail)..but even at $5.00 a plant, they are still $2.00 more than a rhizome. If I can get a cold frame up, I will definetly buy the rhizomes.Yeah, $350 will get you anywhere from 100 to 400 rhizomes, which isn't a full acre. If you find prices cheaper than $1 per rhizome, be wary. We've been burned on those. There's a reason they are so cheap.
You don't want seeds because they are several years behind in production. You also don't want to buy plants from a nursery. They propogate from the bines and while this is a quick way to get alot of plants-- these prop plants are also a couple years behind from producing.At first I wasnt sure I wanted rhizomes. Jungs Seeds near me sells plants....cadcade, nugget, willamette and one more... I forget, goldings maybe? I talked to them about a 50 plant buy, and they seemed willing to deal on the price ($8.95 retail)..but even at $5.00 a plant, they are still $2.00 more than a rhizome. If I can get a cold frame up, I will definetly buy the rhizomes.
what about drying at cooler temps???? Ive heard the cooler the drying temp, the more oils / acids are kept viable...??? just a question?You make a dryer.
Should only cost about 500-600 bucks.
I mean. A space heater, 8 sheets of plywood, 8 sheets of foam insulation a fan, a digital temp controller, and some wire-mesh bottomed shelves... voila.
35 x 25 will give you space for a number of plants, but you may want to put something up so they can go higher than 6'. As they mature, most of the cones come in the top 1/3, which is usually 12 to 18 feet up. Just get as high as you can.I am going to plant some rhyzomes this year in my garden also 35' x 25' and let them grow up the 6' fence.
Lowering the humidity using dehumidification is great but the problem is the dehumidfier has to be huge.As far the drying process whats the best?
If just lowering the humidity is the key then a sani dry dehumidifier could work well. It is powerful enough to keep 3000 sq ft area down to 20% humidity easy. And it has a powerful fan which can be directed to blow directly over the cones with just a little ducting..
If that was a re-print of the article from the Monday Wisconsin State Journal, that was about our company. The $10k figure isn't a membership fee or anything, that is approximately what you will spend on poles, cable, rhizomes, irrigation hose, compost, etc. to set up your 1 acre field. That's assuming you don't have to dig a well or run electricity.Good luck on your hop farm,
Just read an article in a Lodi Paper about Hop farms they are looking for people who want to go into the business. $10,000 to get in.
Okay I will keep that in mind.35 x 25 will give you space for a number of plants, but you may want to put something up so they can go higher than 6'. As they mature, most of the cones come in the top 1/3, which is usually 12 to 18 feet up. Just get as high as you can.
So you have 1,000 or 2,000 pounds of hops to dry in just a few days.Lowering the humidity using dehumidification is great but the problem is the dehumidfier has to be huge.
Think of it this way, if I have 10 lbs of hops to dry I have to remove almost 8 lbs of water. That's 1 gallon over 8 to 10 hours. Now take that time 1,000 to 2,000 and that's what you have to remove per acre. Drying your 3,000 sq ft house from 80% RH to 50% RH should only be about 1 gallon every two to three days, unless you have a really leaky house or overly sweaty kids.
I wondered if it may be you after I read your posts on this site..If that was a re-print of the article from the Monday Wisconsin State Journal, that was about our company. The $10k figure isn't a membership fee or anything, that is approximately what you will spend on poles, cable, rhizomes, irrigation hose, compost, etc. to set up your 1 acre field. That's assuming you don't have to dig a well or run electricity.
1. I've tried a couple, but without luck. They only seem to work once the hops are bailed up and thus dense enough to get a good reading. Otherwise the calibration is off. We are trying to build on to put in the oast while they are drying. Give us a year or so.Is there some sort of moisture content moniter that works well with hops?
Is there a good commercial vacume sealer that works good for 1 or 2 or 5 lb. packages?
Would I need to purge with argon or nitrogen or some other inert gas at this scale?
I feel as though I am pilaging info and will discontinue asking specific questions at this time!
P.S. where is OP??? where are you with your yard??? Got roots???