For an excellent video overview of hop production in Oregon, from the stringing of the poles, to the cutting, to the picking machine, to the kiln room, to the cooling, to the baling, please click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L-xy_fYRvw&sns=em
Video courtesy of our friends at the Oregon Hop Commission.
Oregon's Willamette Valley has been rewarding farmers, gardeners, orchardists and foragers ever since Native Americans began influencing the habitat for sustenance centuries ago. The valley's fertility began taking shape well before people arrived, with the Willamette River shaping a path between the Coastal and Cascade mountain ranges. Between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago, a singular event in geological terms known as the Missoula Floods hastened the valleys development and left deposits of rich topsoil in its wake.
The Coast Range Mountains to the valley's west are big enough to pull much of the rain from prevailing weather systems, and small enough that the Pacific Ocean's moderating temperate effects are felt in the valley. Rainfall averages 32"-35" per year, yet the mountains east and west are rainforests that see more than 150" of annual rainfall in some areas, feeding streams that feed rivers that meander through the valley and add to the Willamette River's northward flow into the Columbia River at the valley's end, and on to the Pacific Ocean where more weather systems pick up moisture and the cycle continues. You will find no man-made aqua-ducts in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Today the Willamette Valley is a unique blend of crop diversity and productive yields, with nearly 200 different crops being grown and the top producing county- Marion County- ranked 45th among 3,079 USA counties in total value of agricultural products sold. The crop diversity, natural irrigation, stable climate and rich soils form a sustainable agricultural environment where raspberry, wheat, and corn fields nudge up to hazelnut and peach orchards. Five-hundred year old oak groves separate ryegrass fields from bush beans, and pinot noir vineyards soak up summer sunshine on southeastern slopes of the Dundee Hills. Cottonwood leaves whisper in the breeze along riverbanks while on a country road as you wind through time, around the next bend stands the distinctive architecture of a hop field, vines chasing the sun through long summer days then winding clockwise around strings at night in preparation for a new day. Delicate flowers steadily turn to hop cones that captivate brewers around the world.
Hops have been grown in Oregon since the 1850's. Generations of hop growers have built on their forebears' knowledge to work with the valley's unique growing environment and coax the development of cones that offer the desirable aromas, flavors, bittering and natural preservatives sought by brew masters and beer lovers. Indie Hops is honored to be working with two family farms that have been growing hops in Oregon for over a century. Goschie Farms and Coleman Farms continue to be leaders in Oregon agriculture. We've dedicated a section in our website to each farm for visitors to discover and enjoy.