This last Sunday (8/31) was our first hop harvest. Looking back, it was extremely successful and couldn’t have proceeded in a more organized manner. There were a few elements that contributed to it running smoothly.
We had plenty of friends come out and help us take notes, pick the hop flowers off of the bines, and document the event with wonderful photos. There were initially six craft beer loving individuals that helped out, but we had a few late comers such as my father, Paul from Wild Ride Brewing, Mel from Lady Hops Hop Farm in Powell Butte, and a neighbor who is considering converting her three acres of hay into three acres of hops.
Ahead of time I created a document that would include the row number, the plant number, the final height, and any notes about the plant growth, if it even grew at all! I climbed the ladder to hold a tape measure to the top of the bine while Carlos Perez (BeerMeBend.com, Central Oregon Beer Week) took the tap measure to the bottom of the bine, Matthew Ward (Bend Brew Daddy) took photos of the growth and his wife Lisa took notes. Meanwhile, Ryan Sharp, Mark Lindner (Bend Beer Librarian), and Kevin Gifford got to picking the Centennial bines.
We had just enough buckets to contain all of the picked hops, which was a surprise. It can be a little tough to tell how much total product you are going to pull of the bines until you have it all laid out in front of you. Luckily I was able to scavenge some old buckets from the garage and Paul brought a few boxes with him to take the hops to Worthy Brewing the next morning in time for their fresh hop collaboration brew.
I have decided to leave the hop-less bines up for a few months, as I read somewhere that they will store more energy this way and be ready for the next growing season. This will probably be the only year we do this as our planned growth will inhibit hand picking on ladders for much longer.