NC Research Hop Yard-July 2016-HopsHarvester

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hop yard with someone walking in it

8/25/2022 – This post is almost six years old and a lot has changed in the NC hop industry since then. We are now breeding hops for the region and working with a group of craft brewers to test the brewing quality of the new lines. The HopHarvester described below is still working great and has been borrowed and used by several of our growers to test out the equipment and help them bring in their harvests.

7/29/2016 – 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.

long side shoots on hop plants
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.
people examining hop harvester
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!
hop plants covered with cone
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!
hops growing
Reviewed and updated by Jeanine Davis, NC Alternative Crops & Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University. 8/25/2022.