2013 was a stellar year for almost all crops in Northern Michigan. The precipitation and temps both cooperated creating a bountiful crop that was so large we had to double our oast (hops drying system)! Having completed our hop variety and cover crop trial with the USDA, we removed the acre of test plants, tilled the drive rows and are replanting with more test plants. So far, our conclusions from the three-year trial are that Cascade, Chinook, Brewer's Gold and Galena among others perform well in our climate. Another lesson we have learned is the importance of cover crops. Cover crops return fertility to the soil and suppress weeds. They also cut down on the mowing and maintenance, which is really important in a small operation like ours.
Another helpful thing we learned is that we get a much better take rate with plants started in a high tunnel hoop house, than planting rhizomes directly into the yard. We are grateful to Delight of Life Farm for sharing their hoop house with us this season.