Shaking isn't something that you could do at home very easily. When the hop
trucks arrive at the picker, the hop vines are attached to chains with hooks
that pull the hop vines up out of the trucks. The vines are shaken
violently enough that the hop cones fall off. Then the hops go by conveyor
to the dryer where the hops are dried to the desired moisture content. I
asked my boss how he knew when the hops were dry enough. He had done it for
so many years, he could tell if they were dry enough just by sticking his
hand in the drying hops. The hops are then baled in burlap using a big
When my sister-in-law was a teenager she used to work in the hop yards
picking hops by hand. I can't imagine picking 100s of acres of hops by
hand, but that's how they used to do it. Must have taken humongous crews to
get them all picked or maybe there wasn't as many acres in hops then.
Now the hops are grown on high trellises and a worker in a crow's nest cuts
the vines and strings at the top. Another worker cuts the vines and string
at ground level and the hops drop into trucks with high sides and off they
go down the road to the picker with some of the vines dragging along behind!
Although some growers in Europe have tested growing hops on low trellises.
Since I'm not around the hop business anymore, I don't know whether that
became a feasible option or not.
There - that's probably more than you ever wanted to know about harvesting
Donna in Idaho
Reply to daawra3553 at yahoo dot com
Not exactly. You are correct about pulling the vines off the trucks.
They are attached to moving chains that pulled them up and off the
trucks to again hang full length as they did on the trellises and move them
for about 50 ft toward the bud removal machine. The buds do not fall off
by shaking. In fact, that 50 foot distance is so workers can move
among the now hopelessly entangled vines and untangle them before they
reach the hop bud stripping machines. It's the worst job on a hops
farm and the one new workers usually get. Any exposed skin is raw
within an hour and bloody by the end of the day.
Absolutely correct, but in reverse order. The bottoms are cut first,
then the top. In the three summers I worked at the hopyards, I went
from the worst job, untangler, to the top job, literally, the crows
nest. Laziest job other than truck driver. :)
I remember when my highschool buddies and myself first approached the
processing sheds looking for a job. The smell was so strong and
pungent, I almost vomited on the spot. It was as bad as a full blast of
skunk. Now, all these years later, I can't get enough of it. There
is no beer that's too hoppy. :)
While vacationing with the family in Colorado, we
stopped at Celestial Seasonings (tea factory) for a
tour. A feature of the tour was stepping into the
Mint Room for a whiff. Trust me, a whiff wasn't
necessary, as my eyes started watering before I even
crossed the threshold. I can imagine a hoip processing
shed being as pungent.
"Things just fall apart." - Now They'll Sleep (Belly)
There was some mention of that in this newsgroup a few
years ago. Growers were trying to cultivate dwarf hop
varieties. I haven't heard anything more about it either.
But it would certainly be nice for the hobbyist, even it
if were not commercially viable.
"Things just fall apart." - Now They'll Sleep (Belly)
That seems strange because we go to a great deal of trouble to handle
them gently so as not to lose lupulins. Perhaps they do not fall off as
easily when fresh? They sure do when dry.
I do the same but it is easy enough to weigh them (or a sample if you
have a lot) before and after. The dry weight should be about 25% of the
fresh weight. I used to do this but don't bother anymore as it does
not seem that over drying causes any problem and I am usually in no hurry.
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Having handled them fresh, I can confirm this. The untangling of the
vines coming off the trucks is a physically violent process. The vines
must be forcefully pulled apart, usually by more than one person.
Since the vines were usually no more than 10-15 mins off the trellis,
they've had no chance to dry and the buds (flowers) do not readily
come off. The vine is more likely to lose smalls leaves and leaf
stems than buds during this process.
Very nice photo. I first saw hops growing when we visited the historic
Strawberry Banke village in New Hampshire. They were being used as a
decorative vine on a fence and arbor and were quite attractive.
My son-in-law is growing a few selected varieties for home beer brewing
that he ordered from someplace in Oregon. In their second year, the
vines are quite pretty and there is enough "fruit" to harvest.
By the way, there is a great hi-res hop photo available at wikipedia if
you do a search for hops ;) but here's the link to the photo:
and the article(?) it came from:
Does anybody have any other links to some good hi-res photos regarding
hops (or, perhaps, other beer related items)? I did a quick GIS for
hops, but didn't find too many really impressive shots.
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