Saturday, April 27, 2013

Hops On The Vine--Finally!

Nuggets on the twine, hop stain on the hand
It has been a really chilly spring so far.  Lucky for me and my hops and blueberries. For one thing, it has slowed growth and allowed me to get out there and prune up my vines and select the ones to grow.  This time last year, it would have been a tremendous mess to get in there and do that.  Just in the past few days, growth is now at the six inch a day stage. 

I am selecting just three vines this year to grow.  Last year I experimented with allowing 5 or more grow and found no benefits to the production.  I am also not cutting back my vines to the ground.  Two and three years ago I also experimented cutting all vines back some plants within the rows when they reached two feet or more to see if that would stimulate later cone production.  I found no later cone production and no increase in harvest.

All of my experiments were carried out within the rows of different varieties leaving some untouched and some altered.  It is my firm belief that our main problem in cone production is the day lengths associated with our southern most latitude.  I would love to experiment with night lights to see if there might be a change.  More about that later.

I have noticed this year a tiny (1/8 inch) fly or wasp? on the tips of my vines.
Tiny sucker
This insect is usually seen on the tips of the vine and all of those tips don't particularly seem healthy looking.  I have sent in photos to the insect folks at NCSU and hope to hear back from them soon.  They attach themselves with a long pointed mouth part and don't move when you pull them off.

Highbush blueberry blooms
This is the first year that I am letting my blueberries go into full production.  In the past three years I have been pruning the blooms off to allow better root production.  They are loaded with blooms but I have seen a decline in native pollinators.  Did you know that blueberries are only pollinated by native bees such as the bumble bee? 

Don't be confused though.  There are lots of carpenter bees out there on them that look like a honey bee.  These devils are nectar thieves and do not pollinate.  Note below
 See the holes in the bottom of the bloom?  The carpenter bee will drill that hole in the base and suck out the nectar, never entering the top of the flower where the stamens and pistils are therefore not passing on the pollen to create the fruit.  Honey bees will use those same holes to steal the nectar.  They are not pollinators either.

I am hoping to open the U-Pick up next year, stay tuned for that.  We are also going to try some rabbiteye varieties this year.  I am just about 200 feet above where they are safe to grow, but I feel I should be OK.  We will see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Learn How to Grow Hops

It's been a while since our last post and a long winter here on the farm, but due to some extraordinary warm weather, 84 degrees here today, we have had things going crazy to catch up in time for our April 13, Saturday event, "Learn How To Grow Hops" at the Hop'n Blueberry Farm.
It will be an great time to see first hand in the field what it takes to grow hops.  We have all of the visuals necessary for potential growers to learn techniques to successfully start hops from the ground up.
This Saturday the event starts at 1pm. with your host Van Burnette.  You will see how the beds are prepared and see one being started.  You will see how to select and prune your vines to grow.  You can witness Van's unique trellis system and see how the twine is placed on the cable down to the hop vine.
No questions will be unanswered and everyone is invited to go over to Pisgah Brewing Company afterwards for tasting and more touring of the Brewery.  Don't miss this hopping good opportunity to learn about the much talked about vine with the cones of flavor. 
Cost is $10/person. For more info call us at 828-664-1166.