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Gorst Valley Hops Small Scale Commercial Hop Production

“What are all of those tall poles for? Too tall for grapes…” That’s because they are for hops.

“You can’t grow hops here…” In fact, hops are remarkably easy to grow and are known for taking over the countryside if left unchecked. Moreover, hops can be commercially grown on as little as one acre. But before one plows up the side yard there are few things that need to be known about hop production.

Hops are extremely delicate flowers requiring lots of care and attention.Hops are Flowers

Being flowers, hops are extremely delicate. They require all of the care and attention one might spend on prize roses. They form on very vigorous vine-like woody stalks called bines. The bines are trained to spiral up twine suspended from high wires and trellis poles up to 20 feet tall. A one-acre, high density hop plantation can easily contain 75-85 poles, 1200 plants, and cost $10,000 or more to establish.

A single hop plan will grow from sprout up to 20 feet tall in as little as six weeks.Hops are Hungry


A single hop plant will grow from sprout to 20 feet tall in as little as six weeks and contain up to 8 pounds of fresh flowers (1-2 pounds dry). All of that growth requires a lot of food, water, and sunlight. It is not uncommon for 1 acre of hops to consume 150 pounds of nitrogen in that 6-8 week timeframe. The plant drinks quite a bit too; up to the equivalent of 30 inches of precipitation during the season.

Hops are Labor Intensive

Any way you look at it, hop cultivation is labor intensive. Currently there are no mechanized implements for hop cultivation or harvest.  Hand weeding and hand harvesting are the only reliable tools. Harvest is by far the most labor intensive, requiring up to 30 minutes for a single person to pick a bine clean. However, Gorst Valley is researching and fabricating small scale harvesting equipment to address this issue.  Harvest timing differs across varieties; click here for a schedule

Hops Require Precise Drying and Processing


While some brewers use hops in the whole, wet flower form most brewers use hops in the more familiar dry, pelletized form (see processing). Being flowers, their aroma and structure are vulnerable to spoilage and must be dried immediately after harvest.


 
Newsroom

NEW!

Hops Plants for 2015

2015??? That's right, it's time to start planning now. We have established a biosecure greenhouse facility and are taking deposits for live hops plants for your 2015 planting. Learn more about live hops plants and the ordering process here.


Hops 301: Field Lab Workshop

Registration Closed

Join us on-site at our 20 acre hop yard for this continuation of our popular Hop Production workshop series. Click here for more details about Hops 301.


Press Release: Best Practices Guide

We are happy to announce that the Hop Processing Best Practices Guide is finished and available for download.  Please see our Education page for more information and read the Press Release.


Brewing & Beer Styles

UW is hosting a two-day Brewing & Beer Styles workshop on 1/27 and 1/28, with instructors including our own James Altwies.  For more information please check out their website.



 

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