So when deciding what size hop trellis you want (or should) build, one of the first questions you might ask yourself would be: Do I have a way to reach the top so that I can run cable, attach ropes, and harvest my crop?
If you decide to build a small trellis, and by small I mean 10-14ft tall, you can easily reach the top of your poles with a good-size ladder. You might even be able to retrofit a pair of old school stilts like those tough guys back in the 30’s.
Building a full size hop trellis (18ft tall) comes with its advantages for sure…the main one being that you have much more vertical growth space. And if you attach your ropes at a diagonal out into your rows, that allows for more horizontal spacing between bines. The downside is that there are fewer options for reaching the top of those 18 foot tall poles. And trust me…there is quite a bit of work to do up that high!
In Central Oregon there are very few full size trellises so we had to be creative with our vertical reach options. A scissor lift is a great way to reach that high and is very stable with the ability to control from the “basket”. But it costs some coin to transport the lift and is usually rented for only a few days (in our experience, only rented over a weekend.) We love the scissor lift, don’t get us wrong. But we didn’t want to keep spending money and having a short time frame to work with it.
So we decided to build our own platform and make use of the tractor that has served us so well in other areas. We swapped out the main front shovel bucket and replaced it with the rock collector shovel (don’t ask me if those are the correct names!) We built a wooden platform that would slide right onto the shovel and that would reach the top of the poles…just barely. The trick is that the tractor operator needs to be on his or her game when raising the shovel. As it is raised, it needs to be tilted just enough to keep the platform level. We plan to try it out this next week and see how well it works!