Our July 2021 grower interview featured Grant & Michelle from The Hop House, near Strathroy.
OHGA: When did you start growing?
Hop House: July 2015. Probably the worst time of year to put plants in – but we were successful!! We started small and grew in increments each year. 11 plants have grown into 5700 plants!!
OHGA: What varieties do you have, and how many acres?
Hop House: Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Zeus, Redvine, Sorachi Ace, Nugget, Brewers Gold and Fuggle. We have just over 3 acres on two parcels of land (We are definitely a non-conventional hop yard).
OHGA: Why did you get into the hops industry?
Hop House: We wanted to grow a crop that we could farm ourselves and because we have limited acreage – a hop farm was the perfect option. We figured with the increase in craft breweries – hops would be in demand.
OHGA: How did you come up with your hopyard name?
Hop House: Our original hop yard is directly in front of our house. So “The Hop House” seemed fitting. We actually wanted to name it as a German name “Das Hop Haus”, but we figured it might confuse some people, so we opted for the English version instead.
OHGA: What is your favourite piece of equipment?
Hop House: A steak knife…..it does an amazing job of weeding and cutting bines at time of training! Lol
OHGA: What is the most challenging part of your hop business, and how are you dealing with it?
Hop House: Perfecting our hop yards structure and the costs involved would likely be the most challenging. We wanted to use metal poles to eliminate the rotting wooden poles that would need to be changed periodically. We have had issues with strength in our original pole structure. We have now switched to a stronger metal pole for the entire outside perimeter of our hop yard. Fingers crossed that we do not have any more tornado’s whip through this year.
OHGA: Which pest/weed gives you the biggest headache, and how do you deal with it?
Hop House: It is a tie between Canadian thistle and curse weed (not it’s real name – but when you grab this weed by accident – a nasty curse word will fly from your mouth
uncontrollably) . Some of you may know it as devil’s weed. Both have been a challenge that we are still dealing with.
OHGA: What has been a big lesson learned?
Hop House: In a nutshell do not underestimate Mother Nature!!!
OHGA: What’s the one issue that you would like advice from other growers on?
Hop House: How does everyone time the training, so that you can get all of the crop up the strings and control the extra bines from climbing where they do not belong.