Ramble On

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Weekly Check-in @hawksbillhops

At Public House Produce, David and the team are right in the middle of busy times - they picked 160 pounds of cauliflower yesterday and the pick-up for CSA shares was on tap.  He still found time to make some rounds in Hawksbill Hop Yards and send along some status photos, which I'm sharing here in this post.

After we built the one acre trellis earlier in the spring, we had a volunteer event to plant 680 rhizomes in five main varieties - Cascade, Chinook, CTZ, Fuggles, and Goldings.  In an earlier post, we had verified a 95% success rate with these plantings, which had left 120 or so fills for next year, when we plan to expand to a second acre and add another 800 plants.

We got about 7 weeks of vertical growth from the first-year rhizomes based on the time between our 2 May planting and the equinox on June 21.  I was anxious to see how much vertical growth we'd get - so that's the main reason for David's photos yesterday.

I wasn't disappointed: the first photo shows that the Cascades have proven as robust as their reputation - quite a few of them have reached the top cable of the trellis, approaching 16 feet tall.  Some of them are even looking for places to go from there - they still want to climb, and in general we are starting to see good branching.  On Saturday I will walk the yard to see how many of the plants are starting cones.

The second photo shows some highlights of the CTZ, Fuggles, and Goldings.  The CTZ are getting bushy - it's as if they worked on pushing out leaves and branches rather than reaching for the top of the trellis.  From the looks of the bine in the photo, with all of those burrs turning into cones soon, this may be the first variety we harvest!

The Fuggles is also a high achiever, being the first variety to break ground and also the first to four feet tall.  It looks like we have a few of them up to 10 feet, so we've had a solid establishment growing season.  I'll keep an eye on them to see what kind of harvest to expect, although at this point I don't foresee a commercial yield from them.

Finally, there is the Goldings - I'm happy to see a thriving bine here, after hearing from so many hobby growers and other Virginia farmers that they just don't do well here.  We have 60 of them, and we'll double that next year.  It is such a versatile hop and there isn't a lot of the variety in Virginia, so there is an opportunity with this one to offer something unique at quantity for some of the brewers who are focused on English styles.

That's it for the week - on Saturday I'm walking the yards to have a look at where we have cones and get a better sense of potential yields.  We'll follow that with one last outreach post to brewers - and then start planning the harvest!

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