Ramble On

Monday, June 29, 2015

More Virginia Hops - Cascades @hawksbillhops

We finally had a break from the rain on Saturday afternoon - David says we got two inches, and I wouldn't be surprised.  In any case, with sunshine finally breaking through, I took a drive over to the hop yards to have a look around and see how things were going.  This post is about the Cascade bines, but I've got two more posts going up from the visit following this one.

We put in 300 Cascade (out of 680 plants total).  It is the variety we'll have the most of, and we chose it specifically for it's popularity in American ales.  We had a great success rate of over 90% on the bines, and they are truly the high-achievers in the yard, with half of them approaching or surpassing the 16 foot cable at the top of the trellis!

The lore is that hops grow vertically until the Equinox, which was June 21, and then they start branching out laterally.  That's exactly what we're seeing in the yard, although some of the bines are still looking for someplace to go up.  Instead, they'll probably follow the cables and keep the main bines moving that way.

When they are mature, these plants will yield anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds of wet hops.  We'll be able to support any interested nearby breweries that are planning harvest ales with these (leave a comment if you're interested!).

We'll dry what isn't taken wet, which will reduce the weight to between a half to full pound per plant.  Conservatively, the first year plants will yield from 10% to 20% of what a mature plant produces, so I estimated a yield of from 60 to 100 pounds wet (it takes about 6 pounds per barrel for a harvest ale), and between 15 and 25 pounds dried.

A closer look at the photos will show that the plants are not only branching, but producing "burrs" - the early stage of the flowers, or cones, which is what we'll harvest.  We've already gotten to work figuring out our harvest and processing plans for the hops - we welcome inquiries from anyone who is interested in "amazing" Virginia-grown hops!

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