Growing organic hops for craft brewers in Tennessee

I spent part of the morning in the woods cutting three 20 feet cedar posts for our first bed of organic hops. The “bines” will grow that tall every year starting around the second or third year.

Realizing we will be harvesting by hand, I came up with a design I’m testing on this 40 feet bed of 15 plants that lowers the mature hops rather than climbing ladders. I’ll share the design once I can see it will actually work.

After speaking with a few local craft brewers, I’m slowly narrowing my choices of organic varieties. I’m not sure what to expect this year, but I’m hoping for at least 5-10 pounds. If everything looks good after the first year, the hop yard should have roughly 250 plants in 2014.

In 1860, Tennessee reported producing 1,541 pounds of hops. – Agriculture of the United States by Joseph C. G. Kennedy

That’s a lot of beer, for sure, so the idea of hosting a volunteer hop harvest down the road sounds real appealing, and from what I’ve read that’s the way it used to be.

8 thoughts on “Growing organic hops for craft brewers in Tennessee

  1. I am a home brewer in Woodbury can you name the types you will be growing i would be interested in them when you get going,been brewing for years.
    Thanks and good luck Harry

  2. Harry, good hearing from you. We grow organic Cascade and Centennial hops. We’ll post a few updates on how they are doing throughout the growing season.

  3. Very interested in how your harvest of 2013 went. Want to diversify my farm and eventually w/luck and motivation put in 4 acres worth of hops. Seems like the market could be very good w/the craft beer industry growing at 15-25% a year out east.

    Best Regards,

  4. Eric, the 2013 harvest went about as expected. It was only a couple pounds! Being a herbaceous perennial, you will not get a full harvest until the third year from planting. Then you should expect somewhere around 2 lbs per plant. It takes a while, but we need farms to give our breweries roots in the hills of Tennessee. If you plant, do get in touch. The more we can connect, the more we can also help direct brewery inquiries. Thanks!

  5. Looking to start hops farm in Cottontown Sumner county. Want to start with 100 plants. Have 2 and half acres and plenty of water. How many could put on 2 and half acres? What kinds should I plant? Any help would be super, thank you.

  6. Brian, there are plenty of excellent guides online to getting started growing hops. I also offer consulting to farms in which I provide all that we’ve learned. If that interests you, and you can visit our farm, give me a call and we’ll talk! All our contact info is on our contact page.

  7. Christian. I am thinking about starting a hop field. Would you be willing to let me visit your farm so I can get a better understanding of what it will take to get started ?

  8. Tim, I am always open to visits to teach folks what I know. I charge a small consulting fee for this service. If this interests you, give me a call anytime. I look forward to speaking with you and seeing more people serving our craft breweries.

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