Monday, August 27, 2012

Looking for Co-presenter on Organic Hops Production

2012 harvest at the Research Station in Mills River

I will be giving a presentation on organic hops production at the Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Greenville, SC on Sunday, October 28th. Last year, Scott King and I covered the basics of organic hops production. This year I will focus on what is working for growers and what the big challenges are. I am hoping a number of organic hop growers are planning to be at the conference already and will attend and share their experiences during this session. You are welcome to send me photos ahead of time that I can incorporate into a Powerpoint presentation. 

I ALSO HAVE AN OFFER TO MAKE; IF THERE IS AN EXPERIENCED ORGANIC HOPS GROWER THAT WOULD LIKE TO BE A CO-PRESENTER WITH ME, I CAN OFFER A FREE CONFERENCE REGISTRATION IN RETURN FOR HELPING ME DEVELOP AND GIVE THIS PRESENTATION. You would have to cover your own lodging (not particularly cheap in Greenville) and travel. Check out conference details on the website. I can only offer this to one person, so tell me about your interest in doing this and about your organic hops growing experience!

Here is the link to the Conference Information (PS, this is one of my most favorite conferences to attend every year!).  Please email me at if you are interested.

Post by Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor & Extension Specialist, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Monster Vines Planted By Hop'n Blueberry Farm Produce Record Crop

Cascade bines at Highland Brewery
Highland Brewery in Asheville ask me if I would plant and manage some hops in front of the brewery this year.  I agreed to do so and got to work organizing the planting beds for their landscaper.  They got it all prepared by March and I ordered up some cascades and some zues rhizomes. 

The plants struggled early in the season, part of the problem was that we received a bad batch of rhizomes that were shipped out.  I pulled most of them out and replaced them with rhizomes with my Hop'n Blueberry rhizomes.  I spent several days watching the growth and adding some secret ingredients that I have learned over the years.

Then the spurt began, after the last prune in May.  It was non-stop growth.  Almost unnatural.  The soil and additives seemed to all kick in at once. 
Zues vines are monsters
After looking these monsters over, I decided it was time for harvest.  I didn't know how many hops I was looking at on their vines.  I knew for sure it was over two pounds, and thought it could be more.  Highlands wanted to make a "wet hop" beer, but are not completely set up for it, so they decided on an end of boil aroma saturation.

We decided to add hops form the Hop'n Blueberry for the bulk and and then to add the rest of the amount from Highlands hop vines, at least I thought.  Cascades were the only variety picked.  Tasting Room Manager, Grant DaSantos, and master brewer John Lyda, came over to the farm Wednesday afternoon to help me harvest.
Grant DaSantos shows off 5 lbs of HnB's hops including a 3 incher
We harvested five pounds from my ancient four-year old cascades in the grueling hot afternoon sun and celebrated with a few of Highlands famous bottles of brew. That ended Wednesday's work. 

The following day, Grant and a small crew proceeded to harvest cascade cones from 3 vines.  That's when the phone call came in from Grant.  I had requested that Grant weigh the hops from each vine separately.  "You won't believe this", he started off.
"We got seven pounds off of the first vine!" 

Yep, I have never heard of this kind of output from any bine planted in WNC.  In fact, our standards have only been around 12 oz. per bine.  Wow, I am still wondering if the scales are right, but, even the smallest looking bines were still producing two pounds apiece, and they also looked spectacular.

More to come!!