Spring is slowly appearing in West Michigan and we are looking forward to another growing year. After some cold winter months spent analyzing our 2017 growing year, reorganizing, fixing tractors, attending hop meetings and conferences, and getting some much needed rest, we are excited to see what 2018 has in store.
Currently we are focused on preparing for stringing the yard through the month of May. This involves hanging two strings of coir per plant and staking each string into the ground with a W-clip. Like most hop farming duties, it is labor intensive and just takes time. Along with stringing we focus on weed control, fungal and pest control, and crowning the hop plants to prevent them from growing too much too early.
We are in the process of building our fully automated dryer system so once the drying cycle has started, our system will automatically detect the weight of the hop bed and calculate moisture content and turn the dryer off when the hops are at the right dryness. More on this to come!
We, along with most hop farmers in Michigan, are also focused on downy and powdery mildew prevention/containment with help from MSU Extension. It is extremely important to be aware of fungal infections like these because it can wipe out an entire crop quickly. Different life stages of the fungi are important to be able to identify and contain and it starts early in the growing season.
On the marketing side, we launched a new logo and website this winter and we hope to use this as a platform to share how our farm operates.
As the weeks progress, we want to share what we are doing on the farm and will dive deeper into specific things we are seeing and learning.