The New Black Locust Poles Have Arrived

Yeeeehaw! Finally feels like our new hopyard is finally under way.

A few days ago, our freshly cut black locust poles were delivered via the awesome folks at St. Marys Lumber. They arrived after being transported from Irvona, PA which is near Altoona. Black locust is hard to find, but it is extremely valuable to a hops Farmer particularly a Certified Naturally Grown Farmer. They are highly rot resistant and hard as…well…HELL! Farmers have used them for generations for fenceposts, barn siding, etc. Hops Farmers here in the East have found a new use for them in their hopyards.

A debarked black locust pole

With a new set of tools in hand…a cant hook (pictured), peavey (a cant hook with a “foot” to boost the logs up) and a bark spud, my Dad and I took to three poles we had left over from the original hopyard. It works pretty well, but this is going to be a LONG Summer!


In our original hopyard, we left the bark on the poles. Why? Well, because we didn’t know better. As it turns out, even though you’d think leaving the bark on would preserve the wood longer, that’s not the case once it’s been cut. Leaving the bark on there causes two problems; first, as the tree is no longer alive and able to fight disease and pests on its own, the bark simply serves as a haven for pests that will eat the wood – second, as the bark begins to decay on the portion of the pole in the ground, it’ll will allow it to shift. Neither is good, so at the suggestion of my AccuWeather boss and fellow farmer Tom Carey…off comes the bark, all of it!

The new hopyard covered in clover

This is the location for the new hopyard. It’s in the upper Northwest corner of our property. Right now it’s sitting in a beautiful cover crop of clover our leasing Farmer has had planted for a few seasons. After speaking with him about transitioning over that portion of the field back to our use, we’re very luck in that this cover crop has been feeding all kinds of nutrients to the soil for quite some time as well as outcompeting the weeds.

We have our work cut out for us

Well, here they are…all 45+ black locust poles! We’ll begin debarking them on my next trip up. This has pushed our plans back a fair amount on planting the hops. It’s possible the poles will be in but we won’t plant the hops until the Spring of 2016. As it turns out this will probably work best for us and Straub Brewery as there’s ALOT of work ahead outside of the poles themselves.

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