Ramble On

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The 2016 South Atlantic Hops Conference - part 2

I guess that one of the things farmers do at conferences is to check out the gear.  At the hops conference in Richmond over the weekend, there were two hops harvesters available to check out.  I took some time to have a look - they were the Hopsharvester machine and the Hopstar machine.

Here's the Hopshavester machine - there is a
demo video on YouTube here.
There are at least two other machines I know about - the Wolf Harvester, which is of German manufacture, and the Bine Implement - made in Wisconsin, I understand, and just off the market.  I've sponsored a couple of Kickstarter projects for farms that were trying to get one of the Wolfs - a fellow up in New York and another one for Huguenot Hops in Richmond.  

For my part, I've been checking out the Hopsharvester and was glad to have a look at it in person.  Plus the team at the conference was great.  I understand they're headed to another conference soon, where they'll meet Andrew from Cascade Hop Farm in Oregon - they used one of these during last year's harvest, and gave it good reviews.

This is the Hopstar machine, made in Virginia.
The second harvester I checked out was the yellow Hopstar machine.  This one is manufactured in Virginia, and there's no web site for it yet.  Unlike the Hopsharvester, this one is oriented vertically, so that instead of dragging the bines over the pickers, they pass between parallel rows of them.  

Otherwise the sorting is the same, with blowers and a series of conveyor belts that allow the leaves and stems to separate from the cones.  

In my photo, one of my fellow hop farmers, Justen, is checking out the sorting mechanism.  He has Kelly Ridge Farm down in southwestern Virginia.

There were more than a dozen conference sponsors this year, and 10 or so displays with information about products and processes.  I was really impressed with how far the community has come in a year.  

That's especially true when you think of the two harvesters.  As my friend Andrew says, "Innovation is a sign of a healthy industry!"  He's on to something.

No comments: