Working In The Cold And Wet, February At Rogue Farms
It’s cold, it’s wet. But we’ve got work to do. February is when things start to get busy at Rogue Farms. The first hop bines of the season are due to emerge in a month, and we need to make sure everything in the hopyard is in shipshape by then.
Mother Nature has a funny way of keeping us on our toes. Although we only plant female hops, sooner or later you’ll find male bines tucked away in various spots around the hopyard.
They’ve got to go. Male bines fertilize the females and then our cones develop seeds. The problem with seeds is that they add weight to the cone without adding any bitterness or aroma. Some folks say they add a off-taste. They also make it harder to process the cones.
In February we go hunting for male bines and remove all we can find. Hop growers have done this for 150 years, long before Rogue Farms was born, and called this process “rogueing.” No kidding.
A hopyard is built to last for decades and during that time many of the bines will die. One of our chores in February is to find healthy rhizomes, split them, and replace the older and dead bines.
Repair And Replace
Cold temperatures, rain, floods, snow and ice take a toll on the poles and wires that make up the trellis system at Rogue Farms. Some of the poles and wires can be repaired, others will need to be replaced.
This is critical because the last thing we want is for the trellis to collapse under the weight of tons of hops during the growing season.
Next door, at Kirk Family Filberts, our neighbors are pruning their hazelnut orchard. Just like we do with our hops, they remove dead and dying branches, and trim the trees to make sure they get plenty of sunlight. If part of a branch doesn’t get enough sun, it will not bear hazelnuts.
Plowing Our Next Crop Of Malting Barley
February is also the time we start fieldwork at our farm in Tygh Valley. Plowing, discing and harrowing takes about six weeks. The earlier we get started, the earlier we can seed our Dare™ spring variety of malting barley.
The timing is in the hands of Mother Nature. We have to wait until the ground is warm enough and dry enough before we pull a single disc through the soil. It’s best to begin in February but if the weather doesn’t cooperate we put this off until March.
Visit us at Rogue Farms for the start of the rogueing, splitting, repairing, pruning and plowing season. If the weather isn’t to your liking, we have plenty of our ales, porters, lagers and stouts on tap to keep you happy.
The Grow Your Own Revolution never stops!