Monday, October 10, 2011

The Harvesting of Hops

By early July, cones were already forming on the Northern Brewer, Hallertau and Perle varieties.  A long spell of hot dry weather seemed to contribute to early maturation of the cones.

In early August, our many of the hops were ready to be harvested.

This being our first year of having hops grower higher than our reach we had to devise a method of harvest which allowed us to reach the cones which were 16 ft above the ground.  We wanted to increase our yields by harvesting several times, so we opted to pick the hops directly into buckets and leave the bines in the hop yard until the final harvest.

This was accomplished by using Howard's long reach and a very long ladder perched against one of the old hay wagons.

The hops cones were sliced in half to determine readiness.  The lupulin content is present and appears to be dark yellow in color.

Later in the season, the bines were cut down from the high wire for the final harvest.  This was a very risky task for Howard.  Next year with over 600 plants, this method will have to be abolished.

The Nugget variety was the last of the hops to be harvested in early September.

The bed of our brand new pick up truck served the purpose of hauling hops to our barn very nicely.
Back in the barn, the hops cones are plucked from the bines and sorted into buckets.  Only the best are used for brewing.  Any cones showing signs of wind damage will be used for making hops pillows, a side product of our operation.
Our daughter Stephanie harvest the cones from our trial Magnum plants

Howie and Amber picked the 1st year Nugget hops.  They have some brilliant plans for using hops in new cooking recipes.