We took a stroll through our hopyard this morning and look at what we found!
The first bines of the season are emerging from the soil. They’re so tiny, about the size of a bottle cap, we almost didn’t see them.
What’s the difference between a hopyard and field of weeds? It’s the trellis system.
It wasn’t until our brewing forefathers learned how to grow hops on a trellis, away from the damp soil and exposed to the sun, that the wild plant known as Humulus lupulus became a cultivated crop and one of the key ingredients in beer.
A hopyard trellis will last for five decades or longer. But ever once in a while, you need to get down in the dirt and do some repairs.
Here at Rogue Farms, we want to calm any jitters that our honeybees are addicted to caffeine.
In an article in the journal Science, researchers report that some plants give honeybees a tiny shot of caffeine when they visit the flowers to collect nectar. It’s not enough for the honeybees to taste, but they are more likely to remember the caffeinated nectar and are more likely to return to those flowers. The evolutionary advantages to the flowers are obvious.
Not so widely reported is that the plants they studied are coffee flowers and citrus flowers (grapefruit, oranges, pomelo and lemons). None of which grow anywhere near the Rogue Farms Hopyard in Independence, Oregon. The Rogue Honeybees get their nectar from the wildflowers, daffodils, roses, hazelnuts, non-citrus fruit trees, pumpkin flowers, raspberries and wild blackberries that grow in abundance in the Wigrich Appellation. As far as we know, they’re all decaf.
Our bees come by their buzz naturally. You might find yourself experiencing a similar natural high if you visit the Hopyard this spring.
Beer growing season is officially underway at the Rogue Farms Hopyard. We just spotted the first growth of bines poking up through the soil.
It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the shoots are just a couple of inches tall.
Give them a few months and they’ll be 30 feet longer.
A well-tended Hopyard will produce for 50 years. But that doesn’t mean the bines actually live that long.
Some stop being productive sooner than others. And when that happens at the Rogue Farms Hopyard, we pull out the worn out rhizome and replace it with a younger one. And February is prime rhizome yanking season. We’ve been at it for about a week.
Signs of life are stirring in the Hopyard. The Honeybees are flying again and the farm hands are back to work in the hop rows.
The cover crop of winter wheat we planted last fall has held up well against the winter elements, protecting the soil from wind and rain erosion.
A typical day involves pulling weeds, checking the tension of trellis wires and inspecting the Hopyard poles to figure out which ones need replacing.
So while it appears like not much is happening, a major transformation of the Hopyard will get underway in just a couple of weeks.