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Gorst Valley Hops announces success of the 2010 harvest.


Gorst Valley Hops of Mazomanie, WI, has reported the completion of their largest harvest to date.

"It's been a phenomenal year for us," remarked James Altwies, Director of Gorst Valley Hops. "We have proven this year that it is possible to grow and commercially process hops in the upper Midwest. The product was delivered to brewers in the same, if not better condition as they expect from commercial brokers of the Pacific Northwest. We shipped pellets, in proper packaging, and with ASBC standard chemical analysis printed on the bag. Brewers have commented on the potent hop aroma as proof that careful processing preserves qualities previously unavailable to them."

Gorst Valley advocates small-scale production methods that allow for more sustainable production. "Most of our Charter Growers start with a single acre of hops and are not allowed to expand beyond 10 acres while in the program," Mr. Altweis noted. "This allows the grower to give individual attention to every plant and use production methods that limit or even eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides in their growing practice."

Christine Moiling, GVH Owner and production specialist said that by keeping hop fields small, farmers can use integrated pest management practices instead of sprayed pesticides. "If mildew or other disease is found, the individual plant can be treated or removed instead of applying a broad application of chemicals for treatment of the entire field," she said. "Along with a targeted nutrient management system, this program has a much lower financial impact on the grower and a more sustainable approach to the field."

On the harvesting end, Ms. Moiling reported that GVH has developed successful prototype harvesting and sorting equipment that they anticipate field testing with their Charter Growers for the 2011 harvest season. "While it is economically feasible to harvest an entire crop by hand, the typical time to harvest is between 30 and 45 minutes per bine," she noted. "With 1,000 plus bines per acre, this results in over 600 labor hours to pick a single field in a prime harvest period that can be as little as 5 days depending on the variety. The test runs using the prototype harvesting equipment dropped the average to 2 minutes per bine using two operators. The drop in time and labor for harvest will significantly increase the margin for the grower and allow them to optimize the harvest to pick when the cones are at their peak."

GVH anticipates adding 10 to 15 new growers in 2011 to the existing nine growers currently in the Charter Grower Program. This represents an increase from 16 planted acres to at least 35 acres of hops. These farmers--with technical support from GVH--grow, harvest and dry their hops at which point they are shipped to GVH for analysis and processing. GVH's Charter Grower program now includes hopyards in WI, MI, MN, IL and IN.

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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Oct 29, 2010
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