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.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harvest has begun.

We are now officially in the midst of our harvest. Currently we are harvesting Willamette's in one picking machine and Cluster's in the other one and will be moving onto Centennials later in the day and continuing through the night shift.

The first step after deciding which hop yard we will be harvesting is where to start in the field. We do not pick hop yards by the row all the way across, this can cause great amounts of stress on the trellis system. The trellis does not like to have major changes in tension in order to allow for the we usually start harvesting our yards right in the middle. The means that trucks get pushed down a row and actually have to back out. We do two rows as a time on the first pass in order trucks drive with more ease. A normal yard will have about 40 rows in it, we call one pass while harvesting a "push", since the tractor or top cutter will literally push a truck that is in neutral down the row. For example if the rows were numbered 1-40 (left to right) we would take rows 21-30 first then move to 1-10, 31-40, and finish with 11-20. (I'll try to remember to take a picture of this at some point)

We use a bottom cutter to cut the vines at about 3-4 feet off the ground. Then a truck will pull in under these vines, the driver will put it into neutral and process to be pushed by either our top cutter (if they are running well, which has been the story of the first days of harvest this year) or by two persons on a platform cutting the vines with a machete. The vines then fall into the back of the truck with the ground end nearest the cab and the top of the vine at the end of the truck, an important detail for later in the process. Once the truck is full the cutter will back up allowing the truck space to move out and another truck will fill its place.

Bottom cutter moving through the hop yard. The bottom cutter stays just ahead of the top cutter and trucks as it become more difficult to remove the hops the longer they have been cut. We keep the time from cutting to machine as short as possible.

Truck being pushed through field.

Tractor with platform pushing the truck. You can see the two men standing on the platform each swinging a machete to cut the vines down.

This is a truck full of hops getting ready to leave the field on its way to the picking machine.


tracysrocket said...

How many people does this operation take? Are they all full time employees or do you have temp help during harvest? - Congrats on your marriage!

nahthan said...

What a beautiful sight to see.
Any whole vines available for sale this year? I'd love to get some for around the bar at The Trappist. Beautiful and traditional for a Belgian bar, and I would definitely tell everyone where they came from :-)

Hopsdirect said...

Currently were are running with three crews. 2 during the day and 1 at night. A rough guess since I don't actually do the payroll would be 115 persons. About 30 of these are our regular full time employees and the others are brought on during harvest (45-50 days).


Hopsdirect said...

There are vines available for sale. Please fill out an online contact form on our website, www.hopsdirect.com, to receive more information.

I will agree that the vines are beautiful. I hung many up during the week of my wedding for decoration.