hop farming equipment

What Equipment Is Needed For A Hops Farm In 2022?

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Hops are actually a green, cone-shaped perennial flower with tiny yellow pods that produce resins and essential oils that give layers of flavor to beer. For something so small, hops have an enormous effect on the taste and scent of beer.

They can be bitter, floral, citrus, woodsy, herbal or fruity depending on the crop and how the hops are used in the beer-making process.

Many people are hops hobbyists, growing a small field of the flowers for their own home-brewing activities. Other people have tapped into the growing market for hops to be used in craft beers, which have become incredibly popular for both serious and novice beer aficionados.

The United States is one of the largest markets for hops across and around the globe.

What Do I Need To Start Hops Farming?

The biggest thing you need is the right land. 

Ideal real estate doesn’t just fall out of the sky, and land for farming isn’t the same quality everywhere you look. You need to know the best land for growing hops. Hops flourish in moderate climates with rich soil and large amounts of sunshine and regular precipitation. They require at least 125 frost-free days to flower and produce a good-sized crop.

So the first thing you will need to consider is buying land. According to the USDA, the average cost of farmland in the US is $3,160 per acre. If you are looking for a solid income stream, you will need to start out with around 10 to 14 acres of land.

Expect to spend about $40,000+ on enough land for a decent hops farming operation.

Equipment

Here is the most important stuff needed.

1. Trellises – Under $1,000

Hops grow vertically upward because they are vines and will need trellises to support them.

In fact, they can climb 25-feet in a single season. These trellises are a relatively small investment. You can get basic metal trellises, hop twine and clips for around $800.

2. Harvester – $40,000+

A hops harvester replaces picking the buds by hand on shaky ladders.

This is an arduous, sometimes dangerous way to harvest the buds, and because it takes so long, some of the plants will be past their peak. Hops harvesters let you pick and clean in the field at speeds up to 100 times faster than picking by hand.

Cleaning involves separating the bud from the stem and leaves of the plant. It’s smart to shop around for a hops harvester. You can get a great deal on pre-owned equipment for around $40,000, which is a fraction of what you would pay for a new harvester.

3. Dryer – $20,000+

A hops dryer removes condensation out of the crop to ready it for baling.

Hops are harvested with about 75% moisture content, but it needs to go down to 10% to reduce the chance of spoilage. The drying equipment can cost up to $25,000.

4. Baler – $15,000+

Balers then compress the dried hops into 200-pound bales wrapped in burlap. Dried hops can also be sold in half-bales.

Prices vary wildly for this equipment depending on the size of the crop and whether you are looking for new or used condition. You can estimate spending anywhere from $15,000 to as much as $50,000.

Conclusion

Hops are a hardy plant that’s considered easy to grow. Given enough sunlight and irrigation, the plants should thrive. Hops are perennials, which means they will re-flower every year.

Many people grow hops on a smaller-scale basis in a field of one or more acres. They typically use their crops for their own home-brewing hobby. You can do this with under $1,000 by building trellises yourself and hand-harvesting.

For a larger-scale operation, you will need $100,000+ for the land and equipment.

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