Planning out a full acre hop yard requires several steps before putting a single rhizome or even a single pole in the ground. Our hope was that we could install the entire hop trellis system…poles and hardware…before we planted the newly cut rhizomes. This would alleviate the extra caution and concern we experienced last year as we drove a scissor-lift between tiny, delicate hop shoots.
We have been using the 3D modeling program SketchUp since day one of planning the hop farm. This type of accurate planning allows us to carefully plot the exact placement of rhizomes, poles, earth auger anchors, climbing ropes, irrigation, and perimeter easements. With a new trellis design in mind, using SketchUp became an even more invaluable tool as we struggled to completely visualize and understand aircraft cable orientation, rows where we decided to omit poles, and total cable and rope lengths.
After spending a few days walking up and down the field, spray painting 70 pole locations, and double & triple checking our measurements in every direction…we hired a drilling truck and had them work the field over two days time. Using a 40-ton, $1 million value pneumatic drilling rig, the crew pushed through four feet of sand, dirt, and lava rock up and down the field. When finished, the layout of the new hop trellis was easier to visualize and took its first step towards becoming reality.