I recently attended a harvest party at our favorite local hops farm. Driving the back roads in the golden light of late summer, I followed the heady scent of fresh hops to their fields, located hear our headquarters in Eugene.
A few days into harvesting, the farmers were enthusiastic – the dry conditions prime for hop harvesting and processing.
Using extension pruners, the farmers cut the hop vines at the top of the trellis system, approximately 15 feet off the ground. Then they’d drag and pull until the vine released onto the tarp below. Wrapped in the tarp, the cut hop vines were hauled to the stripper, chopped into five foot lengths, and handed up a ladder to the top platform where Farmer Don fed the vines through a large rotating brush (kind of like the brushes you’d see at an automatic car wash). The hops, along with some leaves and small stems, fell through to the waiting bins below as Farmer Don tossed the cleaned vines into a nearby trailer. The bins were then taken to the shade to be hand-cleaned, separating out the hops to be dried and then packed for delivery to Mountain Rose Herbs.
Our local hops farm has been cultivating Certified Organic hops on its farmstead in Eugene for eight years. The farm is low tech. For example, the hops are dried on simple tray racks in a clean attic space, with a propane heater piped in from outside that provides supplementary heat, plus a few fans to help move the moisture off the hops. Currently almost all the work is done by hand, with help from family, friends, and neighbors.
Learn more about our Oregon-grown Certified Organic hops!
Rachel Weiner is a Botanical Procurement Officer, specializing in the purchasing of raw botanicals from Latin America, Africa and Western Europe. Her background is in organic farm management and food processing. She enjoys cooking, yoga and adventures in the woods.