Our Goal for this Blog

Over the years we have received and continue to receive numerous phone calls and emails asking many different farm related questions. Our thought is that we would try out a blog to keep people up to date on what we are doing here on Puterbaugh Farms and at Hops Direct.

We will just jump right into where we are at in the growing season with a very brief look at what it took to get the hops to the stage they are in now. If interest is actually shown and people are looking for more information we will continue through the winter and pick up the beginning next spring, which will allow everyone to get a feel for what a full crop year looks like from a hop grower's perspective and all of the many challenges involved. We hope you enjoy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hops TV on YouTube

If you haven't already seen Hops TV on YouTube you should definitely check it out! Let us know what you think!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Harvest has finally ended!!!

So maintaining a blog during harvest did not really happen... We finished up harvesting all of the hops on our farm about noon yesterday, October 2nd after starting harvest on August 20th. That is a whole bunch of days straight operating for 24 hours. Both picking machines were beginning to sounds little bit tired with stretched belts and chains that were beginning to break on a more regular basis.

Today marks the day that we began running our pellet mill. The Cascade's will be run through the mill first followed in an order yet to be determined by all the other varieties we carry. Since from our earlier surveys it seems like mostly homebrewers found interest in the blog the main question to answer here is when will pellets be available from the 2008 crop. The first varieties to run through the mill should be rolling out sometime next week. Between here and our forum we will try to keep everyone up to date.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One way in, two ways out.

After the hops have rolled "dribbled" off the dribbler belts they are ready to exit the machine on a series of conveyors. These conveyors will lead the hops to the kiln.

Sometimes we face problems like the one below, where there are too many hops for the conveyor to handle... if this is the worst thing that happens during the day, we are happy. Honestly though if this really does happen it causes a lot of problems because the machine will back up, chains can fall off, motors will overheat, and belts will break. A watchful eye on the amount of hops moving through the machine is a key to a successful day. We control this flow by changing the rate at which the vines are pulled into the machine. Usually this is somewhere between 18-24 vines per minute.

Trash is the second way out of the machine. A series of paddled chains carry the trash to its harvest resting place, a very large ever growing pile. This photo was from the second day of harvest. We are not almost thirty days in and the piles are very large now.

View from the far side of the pile.

This view gives glimpse of what the wooden paddles on the chain look like. They are spaced about 18 inches apart on the chain. The trash can be seen floating down. Leaves, stems, and coir.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Dribble Belts

Here are some great photos of the dribble belts. The hops fall out of a shaker onto what we call the harp (below on the right). The harp helps to separate the hops on their way onto the the dribble belts so that they are not all clumped together. The dribble belts are a series of belt that are all moving in the same direction.
The dribble belts are all moving in a upward direction from their slope (which is adjustable and is changed for almost every variety we have). The idea behind these belts is that the hops which are round will roll down and fall off the belt while the leaves and stems will not roll off. They will travel all the way to the end of the belt where they enter a trash conveyor. (this view is from the top the belts are moving away from you)

The is what the belts look like when looking back at them (belts are moving toward the camera). The hops can be seen moving over the top of the first couple belts. but as you might be able to see the uppermost belt has more hops then the next two in the photo. Most of the hops will fall through on the first three or four belts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pictures inside Machine

This is a view of the hop vines leaving the main picker. Almost all of the cones and leaves are stripped of the vine as it moves through. The hop vines in the photo are moving from left to right on pinched between a set of moving chains, which are out of view above the top platform.

View across the dribbler belts back toward the main picker. On the nearside of the main picker are to conveyors leading up to the left and right (that form a v in the photo. The one going up to the right leads to the Tumbler.

These are the hops dropping onto the Tumbler the step after the main picker, arm picker and breaker. The tumbler will remove most of the larger stems (laterals) that were pulled off during the trip through the main picker. It will also remove a small amount of the leaves. Everything taken out during this stage is sent back around through the arm picker and breaker for a second trip around (there are enough hops left on the laterals at this point to justify sending them back through the machine again).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sweeping and Hanging

There is one other important job that is done outside the machine by the tracks, sweeping. At one picking machine are between 6-8 people who work the position of sweeper/hanger. These persons rotate between sweeping the floors and hanging the vines on the trucks. Usually three will be up in trucks hanging and the rest will be on the floor with brooms and pushers feeding the hops into the small holes in the floor onto conveyors that lead into the picking machine.

We sweep the floors because many of the hops from the vines that are making their way up the tracks fall to the ground. A majority of the material that falls off is individual cone and complete laterals as the vines are pulled loose from the bed of the truck. It is also common for two vines to get stuck together on the way out of the truck, one will fall to the ground in most cases. These vines are not swept into the machine as they have a tendency to plug up the belts forcing the machine operator to shut the machine down to pull the vine out of the bottom. Therefore, all vines that fall are thrown back into the truck, which is no easy take especially when picking established hop yards with lots of foliage and hops on the vines. Best guess is that your dragging around 30-40 LBS of vine that are 18 feet long, sometimes more than one at a time. We usually try to throw them back on the truck when the hangers have finished unloading. This creates less chance of the vines becoming tangled, which would cause them to fall again.

Sweeping loose cones and laterals that have fallen to the ground below the hop vines moving across the track above.
Fallen vines being straightened out to be thrown back up onto the trucks. Once on the trucks the hangers will re-hang the vines. Fallen vines cannot be pushed through the bottom of the machine... this causes too many problems.
The vines are being wrestled back onto the truck. Notice that it takes three people to move this mass of hops. One person can reasonably throw two vines back on a truck, if the number is higher there is not a chance.
Sweeper sweeping hops into the conveyor running below the floor. To the left of the man sweeping is the conveyor leading up into the bottom of the main picker.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hop Shirts Now Available

We have received our newly designed short sleeve shirts.

All are printed on American Apparel 2001 Short Sleeve T-Shirts (Asphalt colored). Sizes run from S-XXL.

The shirts can be found in our Hop Shop (at the very bottom): http://www.hopsdirect.com/hops/shop.html

Please do ignore the first shirt entry as I somehow managed to lose editing capabilities after saving the file. It is now lost somewhere inside computer land.

Here is a view of the shirt from the front. The artwork wraps under the right arm to the back.

The back looks like this. Please note that our web address, www.hopsdirect.com (without the underline), is located on the late sleeve of the shirt in the same "font" as the names of the hops.