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Hopyard String Theory

The first big event of the hops growing season is stringing the trellis wires in the Rogue Farms Hopyard.

There are thousands of strings, made from Sri Lanka cocoanut husks, that are tied to the wires, dropped to the ground, and staked into the hop rows.

As you’ll see in the photos, it takes military like precision to get it all done right.

empty trellis 02 web

Our starting point, an empty looking Hopyard. What you can’t see are the tiny hop bines just starting to grow.

hop stringing 05 web

The crew rides on top of a specially build platform to tie each string to the trellis wires.

hop stringing 06 web

They grab the string from large bundles that dangle from the railings.

hop stringing 07 web

Using a well rehearsed knot they can tie each string in mere seconds.

staking 01 web

Another crew follows to stake the strings into the ground.

staking 04 web

The stakes are pushed into the hop rows by hand.

staking 02 web

And then by foot to draw the strings taut.

staking 05 web

Each string will have to carry the load of one to four hop bines.

hop stringing 02 web

Without a trellis system, the hops bines would spread across the ground and rot before they produced cones.

completed trellis web

The work is done and the Rogue Farms Hopyard is ready for for the bines to start growing up the strings and spread over the trellis wires.

By late May the bines are long enough to climb and fill in the rows.

Here’s what we can expect to see in about a month.

The trellis system we use at the Rogue Farms Hopyard was developed in California in the late 1800s. It gives the hops maximum exposure to the sun during our long summer days. Hops need 15 or more hours of sunlight during the peak of the growing season. Which is why most hops are grown between the 45th and 55th parallels.

You can grow hops south of here, we’ve even seen a hopyard in southern Arizona! But studies have shown that yield and quality suffers greatly when you grow hops that far away from the “sweet spot”.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. very fascinating and thank you for sharing. I rode past many hop farms on the Eurorail in Germany and wondered what the process looked like.

    April 15, 2013
    • If you’re in the area, please stop by for a tour. We have tours on weekends and they include a visit to the Hopyard and the processing facility.

      Rogue Farms

      April 15, 2013
  2. Reblogged this on Schmid loves Beer and commented:
    Total dedication, makes me appreciate the Rogue beers even more.

    April 15, 2013
    • Thank you for reposting. Please visit us during the harvest season. Just as fascinating, if not more so.

      Rogue Farms

      April 15, 2013
  3. And what is that well-rehearsed knot, exactly? Or is it a trade secret? 🙂

    I just attached trellis strings on my first backyard hop trellis, and I used a boom hitch.

    Love the photos! Thanks!

    May 7, 2013
  4. Awesome! We just started growing hops at our farm in Northcentral PA. We did a small test yard (30 rhizomes) but are expanding dramatically next year.

    I’ve looked at the V trellis system like you use…we grow primarily Cascade and Nugget as those varieties seem to do best here in the East in an organic system.

    Do you use V trellis in all your hop yards…prefer it over just running them straight up to the guide wires (one bine to the trellis wire directly above)?

    August 27, 2014
    • Hi Joshua,

      We use that V system, as you call it, for all of our hops. It allows for maximum exposure to the sun. The rows are oriented east to west for the same reason.

      When hops growing moved to the West Coast in the late 1800’s, growers experimented with various trellis systems and found that this one was best suited to the terroir.

      Thanks for the question!

      Rogue Farms

      September 9, 2014

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