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Thekla McDaniels
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Someone mentioned to me this weekend that hops was a good cash crop, that the local ag extension office was promoting it and gave a workshop on it last summer.

The extension guy is on vacation this week, and I've been trying to find out as much as I can about growing hops.  The current large scale practice includes 16-20 foot poles and guy wires and so on, and I know I don't want to do that.  I've tried searching the site and did not find a thread on hops in a guild or as a cash crop, but surely there is some experience around here regarding hops.  I do have one dead tree I could grow a vine up, but I wanted more than that.  I want to grow enough of a few varieties that my hips would be of interest to a microbrewer.

Can anybody help me out>

Thanks

Thekla
 
George Lee
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Similar to beans.. Twine against something sturdy.
Consider how light rises and falls for the season and execute accordingly.

I was trying to find some photos I shot at a brewery that had hops just outside, the 'guild' or config was...Yakima hops, red russian kale, and marigolds with hardwood chips.

If you grow in # there is money to be made. Contact your local microbrewers and explain what you're doing. Grow hops that they tend to use most often.






Preordering is happening now. http://www.thymegarden.com/site/561124/page/217466

Enjoy -
 
                            
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there is organic beer labels, most wellknown is i guess german Neumarkter Lammsbräu. if your goal is to make money, and if you have chance to sell hops to organic brewery sounds possible.
for hops - im for moment in country with lot of hops fields in north but i havent seen them much and dont have much idea how to grow them. i only know they need support for climbing but its not a problem - old trees or wire can do.
maybe those pages can help:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Humulus_lupulus.html

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hops--32.html
 
brett watson
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Hey that's my house!
A few things to consider about hops are to explore which hops might grow better in your hardiness zone. There are hops that are more suitable to various climes. But I wouldn't worry about it too much, plant what you want and watch them to see what might do better where you are.
The Cascade hops pictured above are grown organically, came from about 6 rhizomes, and produced about a dozen large ziplock freezerbags full. And I didn't keep all of them when I harvested because I ran out of room in my freezer. This year there are more vines coming up and I am going to try to split up the rhizomes to replant and to sell some.
I grow them primarily for myself because I brew, but I would definitely check into your local homebrew supply as far as a source to sell to.
Another thing to consider is how are you going to harvest the cones. When that picture was taken last year I used wires to train the hops, but when I cut down the vines I had to separate the wire from the vines. This year I used jute to train the vines and I will be able to just throw it all on the ground where my hops are and let it sit there over the winter to be a mulch for next years growth. I also created more of a cross-patterning with the jute so the vines would shade the house better. I'll try to get a pic from this year before I harvest.
It is easy for me to just cut them down off the eaves whereas if they were growing up a tree might mean more work. What if you rune wire or jute or something between trees and trained your vines up to those wires?
They also give good shade to my kids room which is the south facing part of the house.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Thanks for the input, folks.

I have  question about the height requirement.  I found a nice hops growing manual online, can't give you the link but it is called "Small Scale & Organic Hops Production" by Rebecca Kneen,  of "Left Fields, BC"  It talks about 18 to 20 foot poles with guy wires for the trellising.  I guess that is the current large scale method.  She said that the commercial hops varieties, the ones brewers use, have been bred for this height.

I know I don't want to do that....  I don't know how much production would be decreased by having shorter vertical distance.  I do want to get a big enough crop to get some income, and a reputation for high quality organic hops, but I don't have to eek every possible penny out of it.  I figure the shaded understory will be great for something, if only pasturing poultry.

Got any experience knowledge insight on that?

Thekla

 
brett watson
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I have known of training them along fences. You just want them off the ground. What about a trellis?
There is a lot of factors in terms of getting income from them, so I would play with a few first, find out what you want and what you can sell them for and then go from there.
My chickens absolutely love the understory, BUT you want to give the vines a chance before you let the chickens at them.
Many hop producers trim each rhizomes growth back to one or two sprouts so all the energy is focused into the cones of just that growth. I think the belief is that you get better flavor and aroma from the lupulin glands because of this. My hops are just a few years old, here, and they are not as fragrant as I would like, so next year I MIGHT trim them back. I really like the growth I get from them though.
 
John Polk
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If you do trim to a single shoot, don't forget your tender trimmed shoots can be eaten like asparagus.

Growing on a large scale takes a lot of infrastructure, as this (public domain) photo shows:

 
Thekla McDaniels
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Thanks John and Brett,

I guess one thing to do this year is pick hops and try to figure out / get good at getting the ripe ones.  And practice drying them.  I bet a home brewer experimenter type would want to mess around with the ones I have, variety unknown.

You know, that photo with all the posts and wires just does not look like my house.  I am thinking about making a row of posts along a winding path.  I have a ditch that parallels the pathway, and my first planting could just be that row.  The next planting might be a row along the other side, making a lane.

In the winter, when the vines are down, I would probably love the look of the row of poles.  I could probably put 16 foot poles with 13 feet above ground.  I could reach the tops from my 12 foot orchard ladder.  If I wanted to go higher, I could always get a 16 foot orchard ladder.

When I think about simply putting in single or double rows or poles, the project has a whole different feel to it.  Later on, I could put in the yard that looks like the (public domain) photo.

I've contacted a few of the local microbreweries.  The one I don't like anyway said they would not e interested, so that's fine.  All I am asking at this point is if they have any favorite varieties for limited edition and special occasion brews.  I think if I grow something good, then someone will want it.  Even just a commercial hop broker, but I bet there are forums like this one for home brewers, and THEY would LOVE special hops, and the small stores that supply them might also be interested.  Right?

thanks guys

Thekla
 
John Polk
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As a side note, if you don't want to deal with 20 foot poles and ladders. how about going vertical to about 4-6 feet (early spring, while the sun is still low), and then going diagonally for the remainder of the season.  The upper cross bars could be boards, or pipes rigged to lanyards, and at season's end, lowered like flags on a flagpole.
As per this crude drawing:






 
Thekla McDaniels
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Cool, John!

Did you draw that picture?  That is sort of what I was thinking, that the posts would be along the sides of the pathway, but the plants would be over by the water.  I had thought of putting a stakie and a string, but I just happen to have a "trellis"  along the ditch.  Prefab picket fence panels on steel T posts.  They are about shoulder high.  I could put the vines up those, then let them follow a string over to the tall posts.  If someone else has been doing that, it is more likely it will work.  I ten to have ll kinds of ideas, and I get 25 to 75 percent success on the first try of a wild new idea.  Given a few years to fine tune and adjust, I get a little better success rate, but this just ups the chance it will work well the first time.  It was that manual I read that said if you don't have them climb 20 feet of vertical, they won't bear as much. 

I had another idea too.  There are some sunflowers, annuals, that grow more than 12 feet high, and root in deep and solid.  They have stout stems too.  I could plant a row of those somewhere, and try some hops up the standing stalks the next year.....

Thekla


Thekla
 
                    
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I use the method in the picture from John Polk.  It works great.  What I've done is stuck a bamboo pole in the ground tied a rope going to the top of the bamboo poll(maybe 5 foot) at a sharp angle.  Then from the top of the bamboo a second rope goes about 12 feet to the top of a clothes line post.  Interestingly it seems the hops prefer to produce on the more horizontal part going to the clothes line post and not the vertical one going up the bamboo.  I don't have a better pic than this on me.  But it is pretty much exactly the method depicted in the image above
hops.jpg
[Thumbnail for hops.jpg]
 
Thekla McDaniels
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well then, I guess that's proof enough for me that it will work just fine.

thanks, serj,

Thekla
 
                    
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I do have to train them every week or so during the spring/early summer.  Which is extremely simple if you are only growing a few vines(I have 3 rope trellises setup).  But if you went into mass production for a cash crop it might get tedious.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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yeah, but I am pretty small scale, even when trying for a cash crop, thanks for the warning on that part.

The one big hop plant I have is just a mass all over the ground...... been that way for about 3 seasons now.  I do plan to get a trellis up, but for now, it smothers all weeds beneath it.

Thekla
 
brett watson
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As for the sunflowers...I kinda think if they were growing close together they might hold the hops up. My vines are pretty thick and gnarly and it seems to me that the sunflowers probably wouldn't keep them up. My .02
 
                            
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I recall my local brewery (Ice Harbor Brewery) had to raise the price on some of the more hop intensive brews because prices skyrocketed last year.  Don't know what happened this year as I decided to spend more time around my budding property than around fellow Mug Club members.  Breweries of IHB's level want larger batches of hops that are consistent.  But if, like IHB, they have a brewing shop I'd bet they'd sell everything you were willing to give up.  Me of course once I get hops going I'll be keeping every ounce for my own beer.
 
John Polk
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Yeah.  I drew that with some help from MS Paint.  I'll bet the chickens would love to hang out under the 'arbor' on hot summer afternoons.  Would also make a nice spot for evening brews & BBQ.  (Pre-smoked hops?)

I'm glad to hear that a similar arrangement has brought success to others.
 
brett watson
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I just put some pics up of this years growth
http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/8169_0/resources-seeds-plants-honey-consulting-etc/hops
 
John Polk
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Two good sources of hops info.

The first gives brief descriptions of 76 varieties.
The other (from Purdue) gives a lot of general info.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_hop_varieties

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Humulus_lupulus.html

 
kane Abbott
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One small interesting note with hops is that it is compatible for grafting to cannabis sativa, this can help elucidate problems with growth, disease and adaptibility to certain soils or climate. Neither of the medicinal properties are tranferred from root stock to parent plant, or parent to rootstock. Note this graft can be done in reverse. Depending on you location this may or may not be legally viable, but i thought id throw it in for something to think about....
Good luck with the hops growing!
 
andrew curr
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kane Abbott wrote:One small interesting note with hops is that it is compatible for grafting to cannabis sativa, this can help elucidate problems with growth, disease and adaptibility to certain soils or climate. Neither of the medicinal properties are tranferred from root stock to parent plant, or parent to rootstock. Note this graft can be done in reverse. Depending on you location this may or may not be legally viable, but i thought id throw it in for something to think about....
Good luck with the hops growing!

iD LIKE TO SEE A picture
They are quite similar in that the flowers contain oily crystals
 
Socrates Raramuri
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but hops is evil...

Healthfood guru Daniel Vitalis suggests this amazing book, Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner, which explains much about 'beers' i had no idea of but appears to be very important indeed. The thing is that 'beer' can be utterly nutritional and because of this it is more than a quaint interest. A good fermented brew contains just about every vitamin there is, including all amino acids. The term "liquid bread" doesn't even cover how much it offers. The micro organisms that convert the sugars to alcohol produce enzymes and make the parts of the process that feed us, which is the whole point of such 'drinks'. And the alcohol in such brews, usually much less than commercial beers to begin with, can actually be HEALTHY to the body, including the liver, in stark contrast to the limited products full of unhealthy extreme alchohol we have come to expect from commercial products.

The most important matter appears to be that the 1516 'Beer Purity Act' made healthy beers illegal, much like the Codex Alimentarius is going to try to make all kinds of healthy things illegal in our time.
According to GMO Compass.org:
"Beer making is an ancient process that traditionally uses only three ingredients: water, malted barley, and hops. The malt is the carbohydrate source, and the hops add flavour and act as a preservative. The beer purity act decreed in Bavaria in 1516 is still observed by German breweries today and restricts brewers to these three ingredients. Another important ingredient in beer is yeast. Although not originally added in the beer making process, it was always present and is responsible for converting sugars to alcohol. Beer makers now use yeast cultures custom tailored to specific types of beer."

So beer makers will tell you a "beer" has to contain hops or it's not a 'beer', which is actually a legal idea that, unfortunately, after centuries of suppression is assumed by almost everyone to be something inherently connected with beer.
The truth of the matter is that many healthy fermented drinks used to be produced but have become almost unknown in the West because of this ancient political contrivance. Fact of the matter is that fermented drinks like beer can be extremely nutritional and beneficial to health but most people will never even have tasted such brews. Which is why i took Daniel Vitalis' knowledge seriously and ordered the book by the herbalist Mr. Buhner.

It's basically false to speak of "beer" when referring to all these interesting brews because "beer", by law, contains only certain ingredients, among which the very estrogenic hops. The "beer purity act" of 1516, according to some (conspiracy buffs...) was about taking a healthy invigorating drink and bringing it down to a drink with one of the most estrogenic herbs in the world [hops] that makes those who drink it docile, sleepy, and less vigorous (including sexually).
 
Tokunbo Popoola
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It's not as bad as you think. you can use wood clothesline. the top part made of pallet board. it's cheaper to put together than you think.
 
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