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Just can't find the best hop trellis design.

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enso:
Not sure if this is the most appropriate section so please move as seen fit...

Ground is warming and it is time to start redesigning my hopyard!  This will be my third year growing and I have yet to be completely satisfied with my set-up.

First year I set up a 9' 4x4 post (well, 12' post with 3' in the ground) using a tent type setup with the hop mounds planted in a ring around it about 10' or so out.  It worked okay except my plants have been mostly monsters from year one.  Many of them grew up and over the top.  Three out of the four varieties I planted the first year in fact.  The only one not doing so was the Goldings.  I had bought Cascade and Centennial rhizomes and some unknown variety a friend had found at an old farmstead.  The latter being the most aggressive.  All of my hops also have always had wicked lateral growth to boot with side shoots reaching 3-5 feet, possibly more!

Last year I lashed on an 8' 4x4 to that.  I also added 2 new varieties, Willamette and Chinook.  ALL of the plants grew up and over the 17'.  It became a HUGE tangled mass at the top.  Could not tell what was what let alone reach it all.  I estimate some of the plants may have grown to at least 30' if they were untangled and measured.

So, this year I am thinking about setting up something more like commercial growers with at least 2 poles at 18' and a wire across the top for the strings to tie to.  Then guy wires for support.  Only problem is this won't really help with harvest time.  Last year I had to hack the top down with a pole saw to reach it and even then I had a blend of unknown proportions instead of separate varieties.  Once they get a certain height it is hard to stop them from tangling around each other.

Another thought is something lower like an arbor, maybe a big beer garden patio area.  With the idea that I would train the hops laterally.  This sounds easier to harvest but it also sounds like a huge tangled mess as well!

Man, why do my hops have to be so healthy!   ;)

Guess I could starve them this year.   ::)

BrewArk:
I like this one: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/my-hop-trellis-design-99256/, but it may not solve your problem of having too much lateral intermingling unless you space them a lot.

enso:
Yeah, that is sort of the type of design I was describing as my first possibility  It is somewhat similar to how they are grown commercially minus the cross bar at the top.

Still has the difficulty of harvesting the top.  I find that my hops have tended to do the majority of cone production at the top.  When they get as tangled as they did last year many of the cones inside the mess do not ripen as well.  So, potentially I will miss out on a large portion of potential harvest.

enso:
Had a wild hair brain scheme last night before drifting of to sleep.  I was thinking, how can I let the hops grow as high as they want and still be able to reach/manipulate them?  Well, if they grew on a structure I could climb...

A tower!  I can make a tower of four posts with rungs up the sides.  Or perhaps a ladder up the inside of the tower and let the hops grow up the sides...  With a platform on top...

As it is a freestanding structure I could put concrete footings in the ground with sonotubes and a galvanized bracket to attach the posts at the top.

Then I thought this morning, what if I made it a water tower with a cistern on top to collect rainwater which could be used for irrigation!!!   Like, a food grade 55 gallon drum, with a drain hooked up to a ball valve connected to my drip hose I have around the hopyard...

 :o :o :o

Boy the neighbors will love that eh?

And, don't think I am not actually partly serious about this idea either...  Despite the date.

 ;D

MrNate:
Do it. Post pics.

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