We are just a few short weeks away from our first harvest at the NC State University Research Hop Yard in Mills River, NC. The plants are looking pretty darn good this year after a somewhat slow start. We finally have the rains we were hoping for in early summer. We did have downy mildew early on, but with our weekly spray schedule we have kept the disease at bay. The regular pests were certainly showing up, too; spider mites, leafhoppers and Japanese beetles. These were managed with a miticide and insecticide. More recently we have been experimenting with predator mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis). So far they seem to be effectively controlling the spider mite pest population.
In early July the plants started sending out a new flush of side shoots on the lower three feet of the bines. They did this last year too, making a decent sized second harvest and boosting yields.
However, this harvest season will be different than the previous five years due to the use of a harvesting machine on loan from the great folks at Hopsharvester
. We are currently in the process of fine-tuning the harvester to adapt to our plants that are less vigorous then those up north where the machine was developed. When fully functioning it can pick 180 bines per hour!
As for the varieties- Canadian Red Vine is once again loaded with cones and we anticipate another monster harvest from this one. We propagated 15 rhizomes this spring and these plants are loaded with cones too! This variety is an exciting one to be sure! In other news, Nugget, a typical high yielder is showing very few cones this year and I can’t pinpoint the reason. Ah, the ups and downs of hop growing in the Southeast. Happy Weekend Everyone!
PS: You can still sign up for our monthly research hop yard tours when we will be demonstrating the harvester. Go to Hop Yard Tours