PREPARING THE LAND FOR HOPS
While researching the environmental requirements for growing hops, we noticed a couple areas for improvement required of our land; specifically the need for well-drained soil (similar to Corn and Soy crops) and good air movement across the field.
In climates such as the humid summers we experience in Southern Ontario, hops plants can come under increasing risk of developing Powdery and Downy Mildew infestations. These mildews can cause considerable damage to a crop. To help combat these mildews, good airflow as well as trellis construction that promotes good airflow are both key. To aid in the natural airflow across our rolling hills, we trimmed some of the lower branches along our windbreak (tree-line) to help air movement through our yard. This will help move humid air and helps our plants resist mildew infestations
The West tree-line in the process of having the lower branches trimmed
The North facing tree-line along Perth Road 26
Our farm topography is rolling hills with abundant springs that feed into our creek which flows into the Thames River just south of our farm. With the abundance of springs and natural flowing water, the need to have drainage tile installed to aid in the drainage process becomes very important. The drainage tiles themself have small perforations which allow it to absorb water and transport it to a central outlet away from the field. While all plants require water to grow, it’s not healthy for plants to sit in water logged soil. Soil that has too much moisture can lead to root rot and ultimately dead plants! The decision to install drainage tile was an easy one to make, not only will these tiles remove excess water, but they will prevent ground compaction, improve soil structure and increase accessibility to the land in the spring. My father-in-law Keith sold me on this expense when he passed on this wisdom “drainage tile is the hardest working employee on your farm because even when you’re sleeping, your tile is still working for you improving your land”.
Tile runs as seen in the spring prior to disc cultivating to level the ground
This section of the farm will soon be very busy with the construction of the trellis system
A 4” tile outlet that drains the North section of our farm. This tile was running full just a week ago during the first major melt of the spring