Sunday, February 27, 2011

Here come the Hoosier hops

Today marks the beginning of the next Ford experiment. With a couple of months of research and planning behind us, we purchased 30 rhizomes to plant at my parents farm within the next month. Located in Dunkirk, IN we hope to fail and learn with this first crop on my 90 acre family farm. Our goal is to a.) spend more time outside cultivating some agricultural skills and b.) plug into the local (state and/or Great Lakes region) micro-brewer market and continually grow the experiment.

Behind this barn here, we're going to erect a handful of trellis structures to grow 30 18' tall hops vines. We chose Centennial and Nugget as our first two varieties. We've read that both varieties grow well in Indiana and both have a relatively high alpha content (which factors into the quality of the beer). It looks like we should not expect a large yield the first year or so, even if we do everything right. So, we'll likely compost the harvest for next year's crop unless we find a home or nano-brewer interested in a wet hop ale.

Next up, we:
  1. perform a soil test
  2. Till and prepare the land
  3. Apply any 'amendments' to adjust PH levels in the soil
  4. Install the hardscape (the trellis structures)
  5. and finally plant the silly things
and all this happens in the next 6-7 weeks (yikes). I plan to post on as much as I can.

This is pretty fun to plan and watch grow from a random suggestion into a reality. I'm leveraging a number of different blogs, other commercial hops farmers' sites, a couple of books, the Purdue extension office (barely), and friends with experience in the game. That being said, there are more questions that need answers and a lot of work ahead. We'll keep you posted.

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