NC-VA Regional Hops Conference


Bringing Hop Growers and Brewers Together

NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program at NC State University

Friday, March 13, 2015 at 2:00 PM – Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 5:00 PM (EDT)

Winston-Salem, NC

“This event is co-chaired by Jeanine Davis, hops researcher and extension specialist at NC State University and Stan Driver, director of the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative.”

For more information please please visit the event link below.

We will be speaking at Fridays beginners session. We hope to see you there.

www.eventbrite.com

 

 

NC Hops Yard Expansion



We have big plans for both our hops yards this season. But we are really excited about what we have in store for our North Carolina hops yard. An overhaul is in store.

Last season in NC we were not able to source enough poles to finish the yard as we wanted. We ended up using metal piping for a pole substitute. They worked great, but ultimately, cedar is what we would like to use. We have sourced some local cedar poles and will be replacing the metal pipes. We will be adding more rows and potentially adding a few Columbus.

We have seen potential water issues where we have our plants. The water does not drain as well as expected and we hope to remedy that. Our plan is to build larger raised beds as well as a channel for the water to flow away from the plants. This should help drastically in water standing on the roots of the crowns.

As we work the NC yard and get it just how we like it, look for opportunities to visit. We have plans for open house days in NC as well as VA.

We love what we do. We look forward to the season of hard labors that are heading our way sooner than later. Digging holes, running cable, setting poles and working the soil are all part of what we love about growing hops. However, the best part is all the wonderful people we have met along the way. The brewing community is like no other.

Thank you for your support in North Carolina and Virginia. We appreciate every ounce of it.

David Goode
Steve Brown

Spring Rhizomes and Root Pruning



20140104-091216.jpg

This spring we will be doing some root pruning on our 3 year old plants. This is important for several reasons. The process is simple but laborious. We will simply take a shovel, a rake and some hand tools and dig around the crowns. First year plants will have virtually no rhizomes and should not be root pruned. Our second year we left them alone again. This helped establish superior feeding roots. Hops plants produce two types of roots, feeders and rhizomes. Only the true roots are feeders, the rest of the root structure are for propagation and provide very little in the help of the uptake of soil nutrients.

The main reasoning for root pruning would be the control of the hops plant itself. During the off season the hops plant will put out new rhizomes. It’s sort of an invasive plant. It can spread quickly if not controlled. These underground shoots can break ground in the spring and develop plants in unwanted areas. If hops are left unattended, you could have a massive hops mess.

“If such exuberant growth is left unchecked, the plants will
soon cover the entire acreage with a solid mass of plant
material. Needless to say, for the purposes of hops production,
this is not desireable! Therefore, one of the major
spring tasks is to prune back this growth”
Rebecca Kneen
Small Scale and Organic Hops Production Guide

Secondly, you have rhizomes on these pruned roots. These can easily be transplanted and grown into quality plants. During the pruning season, we plan to harvest these rhizomes from the healthiest of our plants and have them available to you.

Our initial rhizomes that got us up and growing came from a young hops yard in NC dug from 2 year old crowns. They were small and had several buds. Once planted and roots established, they reached the tops of our 17 ft trellis in their first season. We harvested about 1/2 lb per plant of fresh un dried hops in year 2. With this being our first spring cutting the root systems, we expect a jump in growth and higher yields. There is huge upside to root pruning crowns at an early age. Regardless of age of crown, rhizomes harvested will grow and produce hops for years to come.

We plan to have our hops rhizomes available in the spring for NC and VA customers. We do not ship rhizomes and do not have any shipped in. These will be local, super fresh rhizomes.

So, remember us come rhizome season if you want to shop and buy local. If rhizomes are not your style and you prefer plants, we plan on having some available late spring as well.

We appreciate your business.

Sorry, no commercial rhizome orders.

Virginia Cooperative Extension



Recently we received an email from Laura Siegle of the Amelia County Extension Office. Laura was interested in hops production and wanted to see what hops growing was all about. Well, we invited Laura to our farm for a visit to discuss hops locally as well as across the State. We called our friends at Huguenot Hops to join in as well for the discussion. Laura brought in Rachel Grosse of the Powhatan County Office as well. The four of us had a wonderful discussion about the future of hops in VA. We learned a great deal from Laura and Rachel.

They informed us that they are here for us to lean on. If we have a pest issue, call them. If we have spots on the leaves, call them. If something is causing bines to die, call them. They are here to help. They are eager to learn about hops as much as we are.

They want to work with us to test out different aspects of hops. Low trellis vs high trellis. Chinook vs Columbus vs Centennial. When to control downy mildews and what to use that is labeled safe for hops. They want to help us to establish a good solid weed control with ground covers. They talked with us about using compost tea. They were not kidding when they said they were here to help. The list goes on. They even wanted to get in on a harvest or two next summer! Love some volunteers like that. We would love to be able to mimic some of the research that NC State has been able to do. If you have not, please check out Jeanine Davis and some of her work at NC State regarding hop production at the North Carolina Hops Project. Their project is full of useful information.

We talked about joining the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative and how important that was for us to establish relationships with other farmers and still be able to market our own product. Old Dominion is set up so that members market their own product vs every member pooling their hops into a few buyers. Laura and Rachel wanted to learn more about the growth cycle of hops, so we discussed that as well. We talked about the different varieties and what has done well and what hasnt. We spoke briefly about the challenges of hand harvesting and the importance of small scale harvesters that are being developed.

The one thing that we really discussed with Laura and Rachel was the importance of having a test facility set up in VA for hops. We need a place to have the Alpha Acids analyzed. For now we ship out of state for alpha acid testing. Having an in state lab for hop analysis is important as this crop begins to grow in VA. They are going to work with us on that. VA State and VA Tech are two good candidates for such a lab. Very exciting news for the VA hop industry.

We will continue to work with Laura and Rachel as well as other extension agents who reach out for help. Over the last several weeks, we have had 2 extension agents and 2 potential farmers contact us for advice and assistance. We love the growth we are seeing. Farms from Goochland to Virginia Beach are getting into the mix.

Farmers teaching Extension Agents and Extension Agents teaching farmers. It was a wonderful day for hops in VA. Baby steps in the right direction for sure. There are big things happening in Virginia right now regarding hops. Only time will tell. For now, we love what we see.

 

Extension Agents Contact Info:

Laura Siegle

Amelia Office 804-561-3224

 

Rachel Grosse

Powhatan Office

804-598-5607

 

For a list of local offices, please click on the link below.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Offices

Farmers Helping Farmers



We would like to take a moment to thank all the volunteers that helped us pick 33 pounds of fresh hops. These hops helped fill two orders. One to Starpoint and another to Hardywood Park. Without the help of our volunteers none of this would have been possible.

In NC, we had help from our host farm, Peaceful River Farm. Lee and Larry the owners spent time with us harvesting along with Steves wife, Kathryn. They supplied picking containers as well as cold storage for our hops. We were able to keep them overnight in their walk in cooler. Catherine of Durham Urban Bee Project stopped in to help pick hops as well. We brought in a few VA hops to round off the order. We went back out Sunday morning and picked a pound of Nugget hops for Steel String for a special cask.

Farmers helping farmers.

 

In VA, we had help picking Cascade and Nugget from another hops farm. Huguenot Hops, LLC is located just 15 minutes from our VA yard. They were kind enough to stop in and spend the afternoon picking hops with us. They took time out from their own harvest to help us out. Josh from Beagles BBQ stopped in as well to help pick. We had a wonderful feast of local BBQ from Beagle BBQ and some superb homebrews from Devon of Huguenot Hops. It was very difficult to get back on the ladders to pick after such a meal. We did and finished up the harvest in about 3 hours. We have established a wonderful working relationship with Huguenot Hops.

Farmers helping farmers.

We will continue to establish working relationships with other farms regardless of what they grow. Working with other hops farms is very important to us as well. We feel that doing so will help the longevity of hops in NC and VA.

All the hops harvested on Saturday were delivered to Hardywood Park as part of their RVA IPA. Our 16-17 pounds is miniscule compared to the overall total.  See photo below.

 

 

 

 

20130819-093848.jpg

Harvesting for Hardywood Park

 

20130819-093944.jpg

20130819-094006.jpg

Chinook and Cascade for Stapoint

 

20130819-094013.jpg

14 pounds of Cascade for Hardywood Park

Below is a nice shot of all the hops that went into the RVA IPA from Hardywood Park. Nearly 45 pounds of mixed varieties were donated by local home growers to the making of this seasonal IPA. The rest of the hops were sourced from large and small farms like ourselves. Check back with Hardywood on the availability of this beer.  We were glad to be part of this special brew. It was wonderful seeing all the local folks donating such beautiful cones. Man that’s a lot of hops.

20130819-153354.jpg

45 pounds of these hops were donated by numerous folks of Richmond, VA. Photo credit to Hardywood Park

 

Harvest Time- Hardywood Park RVA IPA



Its time for Hardywood to brew up another batch of their Reserve Series  RVA IPA. This year, we have hops to supply.

We are excited to be part of this wonderful community hopped ale.  What is a community hopped ale you ask? Well the folks at Hardywood Park have designed a beer that incorporates only locally grown hops. They give rhizomes out for free each spring. In return, the local home growers give back some of their harvest as a donation to the project. It is a wonderful way to get the local community involved.

Hardywood called us and placed an order for our Cascade. They will be purchasing whatever amount of Cascade we have. So its time to harvest the rest from our VA yard. We hope to supply them with about 20 pounds of fresh Cascade. We will be donating a few pounds as well.  This will come in the form of a complete plant cut and delivered. This will allow some of the patrons who did not grow hops a chance to pick some.

We cant wait to get back in the yard and lower the trellis on Saturday morning. We have a few volunteers from Huguenot Hops and Beagles BBQ to help us out. On average it takes about an hour to harvest 1-2 pounds of hops by hand. We will start early and end early. The plan is to deliver and socialize at the venue. We would love a chance to meet some other growers in the RVA.

Cheers!

Cascade

 

 

Harvest Time For Starpoint Brewing



All the long hours, the cuts, scrapes, bruises and hops rashes the we have inquired through out the season are about to pay off. We have done our fair share of weed pulling, trellis adjusting, and planting for the season. We have strung the bines, stripped the bines, untangled bines, and re strung bines. We have taken countless photos and videos to document our seasons growth. We have contacted professionals for help and we have helped other as well. We would love to sit back and relax this weekend, but we have harvesting to do.

We will be harvesting Chinook and Cascade at the NC yard and Chinook from our VA yard. The VA hops will be driven to the NC yard and placed in the walk in cooler there. We will package and then deliver these beautiful cones to Starpoint Brewing on Sunday morning. Starpoint is located in Carrboro, NC just a few miles from our yard. They specialize in hop forward beer styles. What will they brew? Who knows. From what we have sampled, it is sure to be good.

Look for our hops in a Starpoint ale soon. We can’t wait to get our hands on a pint or two.

Follow Starpoint

Facebook

Twitter

We have something up our sleeves for the following weekend as well. More details coming soon.

20130804-222511.jpg

20130804-222750.jpg

2013 Expansion



20130325-201452.jpg

We just completed back to back weekends of hops yard expansion for our North Carolina Hops Yard and our Virginia Hops Yard. Very labor intensive indeed. With a lot of heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, swinging, sliding and any other descriptive wording related to farm labor, we nearly have the job done. Just a few more poles to set.

For those of you not familiar with hops yards, you need a very tall trellis system to max out your harvest each year. We harvest downed, dead and or dying cedar trees and cut them to lengths of 19’6″. After hauling these behemoths from the forest to the yard, we then have to set them. Doing so requires a good 3 to 4 foot hole. We meet in the middle and set them 3’6″. So by the end these suckers are standing 16 feet tall, towering over the fields of our farms. We walk these guys to a standing position and set them. This uses every muscle in your body. It hurts, it burns, it aches and it rewards us. Nothing is more rewarding than hearing that thud sound when a pole sets itself properly 3’6″ into the ground. Pack and tamp the ground around the pole and you’re done…for that pole, only a handful more to go. By days end, the body is worn, hands cramped and covered in sap, dirt and blood. Is it worth it we ask ourselves? Hell yes it is! We love what we do and we look forward to each year we can expand.

With this years rhizomes as well as plant stock grown in a greenhouse at the VA yard, we will have almost tripled our numbers from last season. Something in which we never dreamed of.

For the 2013 season, Piedmont Hops is proudly growing over an estimated 200 hops.
85 Cascade
38 Chinook
48 Nugget
27 Columbus
10 Sterling (test variety in NC)
4 Centennial (test variety in VA)

 

Thank you for reading and following along as we grow. We appreciate the support.

David Goode

Steve Brown

Piedmont Hops, LLC

Reduce Reuse Recycle



We recently received a phone call in regards to contacting local breweries for the use of their spent grains for our raised beds as compost and weed control.  We contacted Eric, of Hardywood Park and they were kind enough to offer some grains.  Unfortunately, we have not had time to make the trip into Richmond to pick any up.  However, we got in touch with a very local venue for our grain needs.

Extra Billys Smokehouse and Brewery just south of Richmond, VA has decided to revamp their brewery.  They hired a new brewer, Brandon Tolbert.  We were able to get in touch with Brandon and a quick grain pick up was underway.  We scooped up few trash cans worth of heavy, wet grains and hauled them off to our hops yard in Chesterfield, VA.  Brandon has been kind enough to call us anytime grains are available.  He called recently with the opportunity to pick up dry grains (past expiration).  We picked up the expired dry grains and used those as well.  Some of which (400 lbs) we delivered to the folks at Broadfork Farm.  They are going to be using some dry grains for chicken feed.  The rest are being spread over the Cascade, Chinook and Nugget rows here in VA.

With the simple formula of Reduce Reuse Recycle, many people benefited from the grain pickup.  Brandon didn’t have to haul them away, we were able to find some compost and manage weeds and some chickens were fed some delicious Chocolate Malts.  Its not everyday chickens get to eat chocolate malt.

So, thank you Brandon for the grains and here is to Reducing, Reusing and Recycling!

 

Thank you for reading,

David and Steve

 

Clink the link below for-

Extra Billys story from Richmond Biz Sense

 

 

Grains headed to Broadfork Farm

 

Spent grains over Cascade beds

 

The Future at Piedmont Hops



Piedmont hops started as a small scale hops operation.  We are located in two separate states.  The NC yard is located at Peaceful River Farm just outside of Chapel Hill and the VA yard is located at Swift Creek Berry Farm and Greenhouse just south of Richmond.  We started small for several reason, but looking back, we wish we had gone just a bit further in our operation.  So what does one do?  Plant more hops of course!

For the 2013 season, we have some big plans in store.  We are going to double our Cascade production.  Cascade is the workhorse hop for most brewers of fine Pale Ales and IPA’s.  We noticed the need and we are going to respond. Not only are we going to double the Cascade, we are going to do the same for our Nugget and Chinook.  There is very little supply of hops in NC and VA, and the high alpha acid varieties are growing in demand.  With that demand on the rise, we are going to plant 2 new varieties in the high alpha range.  We tested Columbus and Centennial in the VA yard.  Columbus did great and Centennial passed the test.   We will plant 20+ of each variety in both yards.  Our final gut instinct is to plant a Noble hops varieties as well.  We plan to test some Hallertau?  Those are the plans for the 2013 season.  We cant wait to get started.  As a matter of fact, the VA yard is being prepped at this very moment.

Cheers and stay bitter!

David and Steve

 

 

 

 

© Copyright Piedmont Hops - Designed by Pexeto