Construction of the Research Hop Yard Has Begun!

People have been asking me when we were going to build the research hop yard we've been talking about!  It's finally happening, right now; and here are a few pictures to show you how we are doing it.

Look at these beautiful locust poles that Ian Snider with
the Draftwood Coalition-NC Division had horse loggers harvest for us! 

My staff and the research station staff have just been amazing on this project. We don't really have any hop growing experts in this immediate region, so we are learning as we go. Our local hop growers have been so helpful. They've let us visit their sites, study their designs, and have answered many phone calls and emails. We are trying to make this hop yard compliment the one constructed last year on the NC State Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory in Raleigh by Rob Austin and Scott King ( We are working together on this statewide hop project and both yards are designed to help our young hop industry answer questions on how to grow the best hops in the Southeast. But the Raleigh hop yard is 12 feet tall, which is shorter than the conventional hop trellis. Rob and Scott cite their reasons for building a shorter trellis and I think we will gain valuable information from that. But our local growers, who have been producing for 2-4 years now, seem convinced that a tall trellis increases yields. So we went with a 20 foot trellis.

The research station crew did a fabulous job erecting the poles; being inspected by a very pregnant Amy!

The pictures here represent several months of work on the part of my new employee, Kelly Gaskill and two of our research station staff (I haven't asked them if I can put their names online or not; so they will remain nameless right now). With no prior experience with growing hops, Kelly studied hop yards from across the world (via the internet), visited local hop yards, drew out many plans, and sourced materials. Now they are all in the field, making those plans a reality.

Emily found having a generator on site was very helpful for operating all the power equipment.

We thank the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services for the USDA Specialty Crops Block grant that is funding the establishment of this research hop yard and our continued work with our cooperating hop farmers, Van Burnette, Julie Jensen, Rita Pelczar and John Wright, and Stephanie Willis. This project is tightly linked with the one Rob Austin leads with funding from the GoldenLeaf Foundation. Sue Colucci, Henderson Co. Extension, Hannah Burrack, Extension entomologist on campus, and Bill Yarborough, NCDA&CS agronomist, are also involved so we can help advise growers on disease and insect control, soil fertility, and all other aspects of production. Please see my other blog posts on hops to get information on others working with this industry including Chris Reedy at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Sarah Schober at the Natural Products Laboratory, and Melinda Roberts and Tim Mathews with Extension.
This was the tractor mounted auger that was used for digging the post holes.

Vicky drilled the holes for the hardware before we set the poles in the ground!

Kelly attaching the hardware.

Close up of some of that hardware.

These anchors are here to stay!

Now the cables are being attached.

Stay tuned for frequent updates!  Planting should take place next week.

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