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Greenhouse inside large barn for growing hops, advice appreciated  RSS feed

 
Posts: 16
Location: 6b Atlantic City NJ
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Hi,

I am determined to start growing hydroponic hops this spring to sell to breweries. I have looked at converting indoor warehouse space, constructing greenhouses, and now am looking at renting a large barn which is not insulated. The barn has 20 feet ceilings, roof vents, and a deep gravel floor with water and electricity, the barn is roughly 90x160 with doors on each end, and I can rent anywhere from 3-8k square feet.. My thought is that I will want to create a boxed, hoop topped room inside the barn. For framing and insulation the plan is to use chain link top post cemented into the ground for walls and bent at the top into hoops wrapped in greenhouse poly. My plan is to build the greenhouse just near the wall (what side of barn?) and place straw bales between barn wall and the poly wall. I am hoping that if I can figure out proper fan circulation that this will provide a well enough insulated and contained environment to grow these hops. If I can source it I am trying to cover the gravel with wood chips as an additional insulation layer and some natural co2 emission.

Attached is a sun map of the barn - I am having difficulty figuring out what area I should try and claim. I figure that I can open the doors in the summer for additional ventilation but in the winter will want to be far away from the N-E door as that is most likely to be opened by others. If you're wondering about lights, yes I plan to have a lot of LEDs. Full spectrum white LED corn cob lights are reasonably priced enough now that it is feasible for a person to try to make a greenhouse inside a dark building.

After looking at so many different options, I am hoping that this greenhouse inside a barn can work. Please give me some feedback on my plan or follow along this thread to see how the progress goes.
barn.jpg
[Thumbnail for barn.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Maybe skip the greenhouse and just build a room out of foam insulation panels?
Something with a foil face might work.
Any highly insulated space seems preferable to a hoop house, since you plan on using grow lights anyway.

I hate to say it,but you might want to consult weed growing forums. Your set up seems pretty similar to the average grow house.
 
pollinator
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Based on your estimates.
How what will your revenue/harvest/price per lbs look like in year1, year2, year3, year4
When it what your operating cost (heating, electric, broken bulbs, transportation, insurance, fees, cellphone, gas, dead plants, helpers salary, advertisement) look like in year2, year3, year4

What will your start up cost look like for and what will your operating cost for year1 look like?

What are some of the benefits of growing it in
1) a greenhouse vs outside,
2) Soil-less media
3) LED lighting

Do you know of anyone doing LED hops in Netherlands or anywhere? What can we learn from them?

I personally know people growing greens/lettuce in completely closed insulated shipping containers. The cycle only takes 4weeks, and it's in the city so they have a market that will pay a premium price, its jut leaves so no extra energy for seed/flower/fruit production.
 
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Since this is obviously going to be a commercial project a few comments.
How will you compete (money wise) with conventional grown hops? People who do not need to throw huge amounts of energy at their product?
Is there are market for artificially grown hops? It would seem to me that small firms often want local "natural" products and may not consider your idea as compatible I would assume that with such a small area you will not be selling wholesale to the larger brewers.
How possible is it to light hops? They grow 10-15ft tall, growing them any shorter would reduce yields as less volume
Hops are perennial plants that take several years to get to full production, how does that work in a hydroponic setting? What happens over winter when the plants are dormant.

So A quick look around tells me that a half ton an acre is a good yield of dried hops (remember you have to dry them too) you'd be using 1/6th of an acre or less. so 1100 pounds per acre is the target figure, the article I was reading said first and second year probably 10% of that, and yields down to 400lb an acre are not uncommon, Lets assume as it's indoors you can manage to avoid low yields once things get going.  These figures would suggest you could get if you hired the entire barn 183lb of dried hops.. at $2 a pound I'm not seeing how this will make any money (I may have some figures wrong, lb are not my strong point) Website on economic considerations before planting hops
 
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I must echo Skkandi's thoughts here. First off hops is all about flavor for the beer, if your hops don't meet the standard for what ever variety it is you grow, you will have no buyers.
Costs for conventional, out door growing is fairly low when compared to what it will costs to do it hydroponically in a green house.
Are you aware that hops plants can grow to over 40 feet? Normally hops are planted next to 30 foot tall wire trellises and the whole plant is cut down at harvest time.

Now if you are wanting to just grow some for your own use, no worries. but if you plan to make money from this venture, you might want to get better educated on growing hops as a commercial crop.
My old friend that grows hops plants out 1000 acres and 500 of that acreage is what covers the cost of his operation including water costs. 
 
Mario Lazetti
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William Bronson wrote: Maybe skip the greenhouse and just build a room out of foam insulation panels?
Something with a foil face might work.
Any highly insulated space seems preferable to a hoop house, since you plan on using grow lights anyway.

I hate to say it,but you might want to consult weed growing forums. Your set up seems pretty similar to the average grow house.



Studying cannabis grows has definitely helped since it is related to hops! All the best research on lights comes from there as well as nutrient delivery systems, a huge resource for the hydroponic gardener.

When it comes down to it the cost of using insulation panels just comes out to be much more than wrapping the fence with film. I have to build a frame, cost per panel way higher, hard to get arched roof, etc. If I had the money to do it the proper grow room way I wouldnt be hoping to make this work inside a barn!
 
Mario Lazetti
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Location: 6b Atlantic City NJ
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S Bengi wrote:Based on your estimates.
How what will your revenue/harvest/price per lbs look like in year1, year2, year3, year4
When it what your operating cost (heating, electric, broken bulbs, transportation, insurance, fees, cellphone, gas, dead plants, helpers salary, advertisement) look like in year2, year3, year4

What will your start up cost look like for and what will your operating cost for year1 look like?

What are some of the benefits of growing it in
1) a greenhouse vs outside,
2) Soil-less media
3) LED lighting

Do you know of anyone doing LED hops in Netherlands or anywhere? What can we learn from them?

I personally know people growing greens/lettuce in completely closed insulated shipping containers. The cycle only takes 4weeks, and it's in the city so they have a market that will pay a premium price, its jut leaves so no extra energy for seed/flower/fruit production.



Lots of great questions asked here and I'll write out some answers but no all the technical costs of a business plan. I can expect an average of 20 pounds of wet hops per plant at a price of $15 per pound.

The benefits of indoor growing in soil-less media results in better nutrient delivery, reduced costs, better hops. Indoors I can expect multiple harvests per year as opposed to one per year outside. Also indoors planting density is way higher, you can get a hop plant every 1.5sqft of floor space with proper trellising.  LED lighting is low operation cost, low heat, and super lumenous full spectrum.

Hydroponic hops is only being done in ~6 places in the United States that I've found with all of them having extremely bountiful yields.
 
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I'm not trying to be a nay-sayer, but why spend all the money on lights, then on electricity, when we have the sun, which is full spectrum, more intense, and free? If you must grow hydroponically, why not outdoor hydroponics? Or in a regular green house utilizing sunlight?
 
Mario Lazetti
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Location: 6b Atlantic City NJ
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Since this is obviously going to be a commercial project a few comments.
How will you compete (money wise) with conventional grown hops? People who do not need to throw huge amounts of energy at their product?
Is there are market for artificially grown hops? It would seem to me that small firms often want local "natural" products and may not consider your idea as compatible I would assume that with such a small area you will not be selling wholesale to the larger brewers.
How possible is it to light hops? They grow 10-15ft tall, growing them any shorter would reduce yields as less volume
Hops are perennial plants that take several years to get to full production, how does that work in a hydroponic setting? What happens over winter when the plants are dormant.

So A quick look around tells me that a half ton an acre is a good yield of dried hops (remember you have to dry them too) you'd be using 1/6th of an acre or less. so 1100 pounds per acre is the target figure, the article I was reading said first and second year probably 10% of that, and yields down to 400lb an acre are not uncommon, Lets assume as it's indoors you can manage to avoid low yields once things get going.  These figures would suggest you could get if you hired the entire barn 183lb of dried hops.. at $2 a pound I'm not seeing how this will make any money (I may have some figures wrong, lb are not my strong point) Website on economic considerations before planting hops



My hops are local, fresh, and hydroponically grown - there is a huge market for these and of the ~40 breweries I've talked to in the area there is an interest from all of them. You are right that I will not be able to contract with a larger brewer, but that is not the initial plan. Need to build reputation, experience, and grow in size before that. There are enough microbreweries in the area to service my supply.

I admit, a large expense will be the initial upfront cost of the LED lighting. This is one of the tradeoffs between free sunlight (but having to build a greenhouse). LED corncob bulbs have a great spherical throw. With proper trellising I don't need more than 12 feet in greenhouse height as you can get them to grow diagonally and horizontally.

I will be sourcing two year old crowns which will still provide great yields in a hydroponic setup. Realistically indoor grown hops, from what I've researched, can be turned over 3-5x a year by managing vegetative/flowering/dormant stages with a large supply of hops.

As to your numbers, they are definitely low/off! The main consideration is the ability to sell the fresh/wet hops without having to go through the expensive, arduous pelletizing process. I am hoping that is indeed what I find out to be my experience!
 
Mario Lazetti
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Location: 6b Atlantic City NJ
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James Freyr wrote:I'm not trying to be a nay-sayer, but why spend all the money on lights, then on electricity, when we have the sun, which is full spectrum, more intense, and free? If you must grow hydroponically, why not outdoor hydroponics? Or in a regular green house utilizing sunlight?



James that was the first option I looked at. I wanted to build a greenhouse on leased land as it was the best price entry point I could find. However in this area I was unable to source that outcome, so I'm trying to get creative here as I really want to give this endeavor a try and am running out of time. 
 
Mario Lazetti
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Location: 6b Atlantic City NJ
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I must echo Skkandi's thoughts here. First off hops is all about flavor for the beer, if your hops don't meet the standard for what ever variety it is you grow, you will have no buyers.
Costs for conventional, out door growing is fairly low when compared to what it will costs to do it hydroponically in a green house.
Are you aware that hops plants can grow to over 40 feet? Normally hops are planted next to 30 foot tall wire trellises and the whole plant is cut down at harvest time.

Now if you are wanting to just grow some for your own use, no worries. but if you plan to make money from this venture, you might want to get better educated on growing hops as a commercial crop.
My old friend that grows hops plants out 1000 acres and 500 of that acreage is what covers the cost of his operation including water costs. 



That is indeed how legacy hops are produced, a method not designed for maximum yield but for ease of bulk planting Are you aware that hop growers are now growing hops in 12 foot high greenhouses hydroponically with significantly better yields? Here is an example http://www.hydrohopfarms.com/home.html of the growing model I am trying to emulate.

 
S Bengi
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hydroponic greenhouse = 11,000ft2
hydroponic greenhouse =  4,462 plants
hydroponic greenhouse = 10,000lbs/3month or 40,000lbs/yr (they trick the plants into thinking the days are getting shorter every 6weeks after harvest to simulate flowering)
http://www.hortidaily.com/article/34421/US-Florida-brewers-set-up-hydroponic-hop-farm

Price = $10/lbs up to $30/lbs
Revenue = 40,000lbs *$10/lbs = half a millions dollars per year
https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_hops_price_received $6/lbs for bulk run of the mill hop
http://indiehops.com/supply_printable.asp $10-$40/lbs for organic
https://modernfarmer.com/2017/11/national-organic-standards-board-decrees-hydroponic-can-organic/  ; get your system certified as organic and you can collect alot more money



Startup Cost
Total LED strings = 5,000  (Would each string be 20ft or is the plant shorter)
Price per LED String = ???

Rope Support for Hop Bine = $$$$$$
Blackout System to simulate short days = $$$$$

Hydroponic Grow Bucket = 5,000
Price Per Bucket = $$$$$

AI of Hydroponic system = $$$$$ (Controller, Sensors, Pumps, Nutrient Dispensers, Pumps, etc)
Rest of Hydroponic System = $$$$$

The plan looks doable. I say go for it, I would say price out the entire system. 
 
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How does any of what you are suggesting have anything to do with permaculture? If I understand you correctly, you are proposing a very high input, artificially controlled/operated/maintained, disconnected from weather/Sun/Earth and soil, -system. You may (or may not) be able to grow a lucrative crop, but if what you propose is what you want, why aren't you asking advice from factory farmers instead of from permaculturalists?
 
Mario Lazetti
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S bengi,

You get it! Thanks for seeing what I'm talking about.

Jim,

This board has taught me so much and I respect the advice of people here. The greenhouse design and structure I've come up with mostly from here so I was hoping to generate some discussion on it from the place where I learned.
 
pollinator
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Yeah, I have to go with Jim on this one.

One of the worst design mistakes that can be made with a greenhouse is to build it in the shade. You are proposing to build it in a barn.

Leaving that aside for the moment, and the fact that the greenhouse design you're choosing has little of permaculture to it (no earth berms or earthworks at all for temperature stability, no discussion of thermal mass to trap heat for release at night, and no discussion of passive solar gain, because it's being built in a barn, no stacking of functions, no mention of the use of aquaponics for fertilisation, etc...), the greater idea here shows little of permacultural design to it.

Also, hops is very like cannabis, and like other substances grown and consumed by humans that are valued for the nuance and subtlety in flavour caused by their individual growing environments, by variables such as temperature, altitude, humidity, shade, soil life, composition, and surrounding vegetation. For this reason, hops grown in some places is more highly prized than others, and specific hops grown in specific places is more highly valued than other hops grown just anywhere.

It's like wine. You're taking commercial models that fit Ontario, BC, and Californian producers, and saying that you can get the same prices for something coming out of, well, not your bathtub, but laboratory conditions, at best, bereft of the nuance that creates the terroir that makes these certain types of grown product desirable.

You're comparing my heirloom, garden fresh watermelon beefsteak tomatoes to hothouse-grown, ethylene-ripened cardboard from the grocery store and quoting farmers' market figures.

My advice is to try to rethink this concept along permacultural lines. Look at the commercial value of organically grown culinary mushrooms, dried or fresh. The inputs are cheap or sometimes free. No lights. Your tenting needn't be transparent, you just need to maintain more stable temperature and moisture levels. A humidifier with a humidity sensor and automatic setting, some inert substrate to innoculate, some mushroom spore, and you're golden. And you can still do hops outside (you're only in New Jersey, you can probably still grow half the year round, right?). Not to mention that you'd have large quantities of depleted substrate that can be sold as mushroom compost.

I know, you said hops, I am suggesting mushrooms. But it fits the barn model better than your hops suggestion and is more in line with permacultural design.

-CK
 
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Hi Mario -

I am in NC and in the same boat (somewhat) as you.  I am working on a greenhouse design/build so that I can grow hops hydroponically year round.  There is a huge demand in my area for wet hops.  I have 12 acres of land that I own and have been researching and experimenting over the last several months.  I would love to talk to you to see what if any progress you have made and share our information.  Let me know if this is something you would be interested in.  Cheers!
 
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Mario Lazetti wrote:Hi,

I am determined to start growing hydroponic hops this spring to sell to breweries. I have looked at converting indoor warehouse space, constructing greenhouses, and now am looking at renting a large barn which is not insulated. The barn has 20 feet ceilings, roof vents, and a deep gravel floor with water and electricity, the barn is roughly 90x160 with doors on each end, and I can rent anywhere from 3-8k square feet.. My thought is that I will want to create a boxed, hoop topped room inside the barn. For framing and insulation the plan is to use chain link top post cemented into the ground for walls and bent at the top into hoops wrapped in greenhouse poly. My plan is to build the greenhouse just near the wall (what side of barn?) and place straw bales between barn wall and the poly wall. I am hoping that if I can figure out proper fan circulation that this will provide a well enough insulated and contained environment to grow these hops. If I can source it I am trying to cover the gravel with wood chips as an additional insulation layer and some natural co2 emission.

Attached is a sun map of the barn - I am having difficulty figuring out what area I should try and claim. I figure that I can open the doors in the summer for additional ventilation but in the winter will want to be far away from the N-E door as that is most likely to be opened by others. If you're wondering about lights, yes I plan to have a lot of LEDs. Full spectrum white LED corn cob lights are reasonably priced enough now that it is feasible for a person to try to make a greenhouse inside a dark building.

After looking at so many different options, I am hoping that this greenhouse inside a barn can work. Please give me some feedback on my plan or follow along this thread to see how the progress goes.



Hi,

We can Help, Durban Indoor Hops. We have been working on a design for the last 3 years. We have a way to grow, harvest, process, and market directly to the breweries. Let me know when we can talk more about your project. kris@durbanindoorhops.com

Cheers,
Kris
 
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