Hop Harvest at Bee Hoppy Farms
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It’s been an exciting couple of weeks out at Bee Hoppy Farms…the annual hop harvest!
Grower Tiffany Cooper is finishing up her second year of hop production at Bee Hoppy Farms outside Pittsboro in Chatham County, NC. Hops are an old crop that is coming around again: it used to be grown in North Carolina about 200 years ago but now most commercial hops acreage is found in the Pacific Northwest. About six years ago North Carolina growers started planting hops again and since then it has really taken off.
Hops are perennial so they come back each year. The bines (unlike vines, bines do not have tendrils) grow to about 25 feet long each season and must be pruned and trained to a trellis. The female flowers, called cones, are harvested and used to flavor beer.
Tiffany planted three varieties of hops on half an acre in the spring of 2017. She has been very pleased with the yield in her second year. Tiffany sells some fresh (wet) hops to local breweries and home brewers. The majority of the harvested cones are dried and pelletized.
Small-scale hop growers harvest by hand and it’s quite labor-intensive. Some elect to harvest over a period of time and so pick cones right off the bines and do multiple pickings. Others do a once-over harvest, cutting the bines down and then picking the cones. Tiffany does a once-over harvest but it takes a couple of weeks to get it all done.
Tiffany has connected with several breweries in the area excited to be able to source locally grown hops. Last week brewers from two different breweries came out to the farm and actually helped with the harvest! They were very interested in seeing the production. Tiffany also scheduled a Hop Harvest Event on Saturday August 11 and invited friends and curious residents to come out to help with the harvest. I posted photos of this fun event below!
If you are interested in purchasing hops, email Tiffany.
For more information:
NC Hops Project – NC State Extension
2019 South Atlantic Hops Conference
Breeding Hop Varieties for North Carolina – NC State Extension
Growing Hops in North Carolina: Variety Trials – NC State Extension