Friday, June 17, 2011

Why We Call It The Hop'n Blueberry Farm

There is a reason we call the farm Hop'n Blueberry and that reason does happen now. In these two pictures you can see some Jersey Highbush Blueberries (what few I have) and Cascade hops. Both are getting close to harvest. The hops are unusually early, and there aren't that many. Let's look at them first.
I think, the early warm spell, the low latitude, and varieties are a major factor about how hops are going to do in this area. In my opinion, it doesn't look good, but I am just one of a growing number of those studying the possible next replacement crop for tobacco in Western North Carolina.
North Carolina State University has taken some major interest in this crop and have started hop yards in both Raleigh and at the Mountain Horticultural Experimental Station in Arden. Being in at the ground level, my small hop yard has had close scrutiny by those involved in the experimental project.
Here is my summary:
I think that the day length is a major factor in early cone production. That is an unconfirmed observation. Vines are producing cones before the mass of vine growth is finished. Every since my plantings, cone production has remained the same or has decreased.
I have pulled every Centennial vine up and replanted with Nuggets that I root pruned this year. The variety that I thought was doing the best in my yard. So far the new plantings are at best 4 feet high compared to, lets say, the cascades that I bought 3 years ago from Oregon that reached a height of 20 feet the first year.
I could go on, but for now, lets see.

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