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.