Permanent Infrastructure is IN!

May and June were busy months in the hopyard, with us readying poles for placement, and then installing our permanent infrastructure for the 1 acre hopyard. Check our our progress below:

We received a few loads of Tamarack poles from a sawmill in Rocky Mountain house. We stripped the lower 4 and a half feet of bark on the poles and drilled holes for wire at the top of the poles.

We rented a skid steer with post-hole auger and drilled down 4 feet. Poles were placed in the ground using our Volvo front-end loader.

We used a product called RotBloc to protect the poles from ground level rot, as we are not using chemically treated poles in alignment with the requirements of the Canadian Organic Standard. This product is made with recycled irrigation drip tape- so cool and easy to apply.

The boys were impressed with their hard work that day. Wiring the trellis was up next and completed over the next few weekends.

Trellising was an epic grind, using a trailer with scaffolding and pulling thousands of feet of wire rope. Let’s just say we are pumped to have a couple years of from this task.

Hops also require copious amounts of water to have successful growth, and this year has been very dry, making this irrigation even more essential. The hop yard has irrigation tape down each row with drip emitters spaced every 2 feet or so.  The current set-up also allows us to provide fertigation to the hops, a liquid organic fertilizer solution made for our crop and soil needs.

Early season

Uncover the crowns. Hoe the weeds away to keep from crowding. Ensure plants are correctly labelled. Bask in the beauty and serenity of the farm.

All the easy stuff.

Moving forward there are the big questions and actions for this summer:

  • Set out the hopyard layout physically. Confirm distance between plants. Confirm distance between poles.
  • Auger the holes.
  • Get some ROTBLOC and install on poles.
  • Purchase and install hardware onto the poles.
  • Purchase a copious amount of wire. Install on poles once they are in place.
  • Build drying racks for post-harvest processing.
  • Pot up rhizomes purchased this year for quarantine.
  • Covercrop?
  • Make a scaffold of some nature that can be pulled behind a quad?

 

Poles and Wire

For 2016, Bright Bine Farm will be putting up about 1 acre of infrastructure for high trellising our hops. We are fortunate to have a friend who is assisting us in harvesting and providing the 40-odd 20 ft poles that will form the major structure. These should be up during the summer months and we will also be putting up the wire for trellising. Big adventures!

Last year, we trialed a number of hop varieties purchased from Prairie Gem Hops from Manitoba including Northern Brewer, Willamette, Cascade, Centennial and Crystal. We experiences some challenges with respect to aphids; however, we are exploring a number of organic means of pest management, including using praying mantis to eat up those pests!

We are likely removing Northern Brewer from our roster and trialing Mt. Hood for the 2016 harvest. As our focus is primarily on getting the infrastructure in place, as well as process for pest management and harvest/processing, we will be limiting the planting of new rhizomes.