Oh No, the Hops Are on the Ground!

— Written By and last updated by Cloe Nichols
hop yard
Yesterday morning, the North Carolina State University research hop yard looked beautiful. We had a group of young farmers from New Zealand coming for a visit and I was glad that the plants were at a perfect stage to teach them about hops. There were very obvious differences among the varieties, there were burrs and cones to show them, and the farmscaping plants were in full bloom.
fallen hop plants
But somehow I had totally missed seeing that half of the lower row of the hop yard was on the ground! Later in the day I got a call from my employee, Leo, asking me about it. “How could I have missed that?” I asked. We went out to assess the situation, fearing that the wire had broken. Fortunately, we discovered that a clamp had simply popped off and the wire just slid out through the eyebolt. There had been strong storms in the area over the weekend; I guess that lower row was the most exposed and Kelly had tightened up that wire on Friday, maybe a wee bit too much.
resetting the hop wires
Our research station staff are so wonderful. They came right to help and in short order we had a plan and started the repairs.
man on tall ladder reconnecting the main wire
Jeremy had the worse job. He was the one who climbed up the ladder to thread the wire back through the eyebolt and put not one but TWO clamps on. None of us are used to being on the ladders in our yard because we only have to do it when something needs repairs which is not very often. Otherwise, we use the winches to raise and lower the wire.
workers untangling the hop bines
The hardest part was untangling the bines. Not sure how they got crossed, but we had to untie a few strings to get the bines back in order.
the restored hop yard
But it all worked out just fine. We got the wire up, got the bines spread out properly, and there is no apparent damage. So we weathered our first “collapse” just fine. But next time we have a calm day and a few spare hours, we are going to put a second clamp on all the other wires, too.