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Stringing And Staking Hops, How The Old Timers Did It

staking 01As we wrap up stringing and staking our hops at Rogue Farms, we want to share this newsreel video from 1969 showing how they did it in Great Britain.

They went to amazing lengths back then – you’ll get the reference when you see the video.

While the techniques are different from how we do it today at Rogue Farms, we still string and stake our 65,049 bines and 42-acres by hand. We share their pride over a job well done and their love for a pint of good beer.

Stringing And Staking Our Hops

Just a few days into spring and we’re starting our first big chore of the season – stringing and staking our 42-acre hopyard. The job requires nearly a dozen farmhands and days of back breaking work. But if you want to grow your own beer, this is what you got to do. It starts with the string…

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The string is called coir, a biodegradable twine made from Sri Lanka cocoanut husks.

Coir is a perfect climbing material for hop bines. Growers in Oregon’s Willamette Valley have been using it for decades. Farm hands ride high in the hopyard, tying one end of the string to the trellis wires.

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And letting the other end fall to the ground.

hop stringing 01

Right behind them comes another crew.

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Pushing the strings deep in the soil and staking them tight.

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The work continues all this week, come rain or shine. When we’re done we’ll have strung and staked 253 miles of coir across all 42 acres. Now we’re ready for the hops to grow.

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A strung and staked hopyard at Rogue Farms.

How important is stringing and staking? Without strings, hops are a weed that ramble across the field. With strings, hops climb off the ground, away from moisture and bine killing fungal diseases. Strings allow them to seek out the sunshine they so desperately crave during the growing season, and to produce cones filled the precious lupulin which gives beer its bitterness and aroma.

Because of strings, a weed becomes a crop.

Come to Rogue Farms this week and see how we string and stake the seven varieties of hops we grow for Rogue ales, lagers, porters, stouts, meads, kolsch and braggots. Join the Revolution!

roguefarms grow the revolution

The First Signs Of Beer

We took a stroll through our hopyard this morning and look at what we found!

The first bines of the season are emerging from the soil. They’re so tiny, about the size of a bottle cap, we almost didn’t see them.

A new bine pokes through the dirt in the 42-acre hopyard at Rogue Farms.

A new bine pokes through the dirt in the 42-acre hopyard at Rogue Farms.

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Our New Crop Of Beer And Spirits

With an early spring at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, this year’s crop of Risk™ malting barley is off to a good start.

After laying dormant during the cold season, the shoots have resumed growing and are nearly three inches tall.

Risk in Field

Mt. Hood peeks through an irrigation wheel at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon.

Since we’re surrounded by wildlife, we often get some interesting visitors wandering through the fields.

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Revenge Of The Slugs

You’re not going to believe this. We don’t quite believe it ourselves.

A few weeks ago we noticed that something odd was going on in our field of Dream Rye. Shoots were disappearing and being overtaken by grass. At first, it seemed like no big deal. The changes were subtle. But the shoots continued dying and the grass spread even further. Eventually we lost nearly all 20 acres of the Dream Rye we planted just a few months ago.

This is what happened.

Banana Slug OSU Extension

A banana slug. Photo courtesy Oregon State Extension Service.

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Rogue Gets Goosed

It’s become a rite of winter at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon. A battle with invaders from the north.

Hundreds of Canada Geese descend upon the farm this time of year to raid our Risk™ malting barley. From the air, the vast fields of green barley shoots are a target that’s too attractive to pass up.

We go on the counter offensive, harassing the geese with rifle shots in the air, riding through fields in our ATVs, or sending the dogs out to chase them away. These skirmishes drag on for weeks or months.

A flock of Canada Geese arrive at Rogue Farms to join their birds of a feather in the annual raids on our barley fields.

A flock of Canada Geese arrive at Rogue Farms to join their birds of a feather in the annual raids on our barley fields.

This year, the geese outsmarted us.

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High Strung Hops

Yes, it seems silly to get excited over string.

But this was no ordinary shipment via UPS. When the string arrived at Rogue Farms, the delivery folks unloaded dozens of bales weighing hundreds of pounds apiece. In all, we now have 253 miles of string.

Bales of string

Just some of the bales of string that arrived at Rogue Farms in Independence, Oregon.

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Kids Like Pigs

YMCA Kids PlantingWe had a lot of fun with the kids from the Monmouth-Independence YMCA who came out to the Rogue Farms Hopyard last week.

They’ll be regular visitors this summer. We built raised garden beds for them and they got to work right away digging holes and filling them with the plants they brought with them.

And then they saw the pigs…

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Pig On The Mend

Apples...

It’s been over a week since we put the pigs on arthritis medicine and the difference is amazing.

To be honest, it’s also quite a relief to see that Voo and Doo have plenty of life left in them

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Start Of The Spring Nectar Flow

Rogue Honeybees 19 Original Colonies Mead Rogue Farms Hopyard Independence OregonWhen the first flowers of the season appeared in our neighbor’s cherry orchard, we knew the spring nectar flow had begun.

This is one of the prettiest times of the year on the Rogue Farms Hopyard. And for the Rogue Honeybees, one of the busiest.

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