Autumn in the hop gardens, bine cutting is underway and we are almost at the end of another hop growing year. With shorter days, the urgency of harvest and corn sowing is over, life now shifts to a slower pace on the land. For the hop farm, bine cutting started at the end October after we had our first frost. At hop picking the top part of each hop bine is cut off to be taken to the picking machine, this leaves the lower metre still attached to the hill. This bottom length of each bine is now cut off and burnt.
Because of the wire work structure needed, hops grow in the same ground year after year, they cannot be rotated annually like other crops. Burning this excess plant material is therefore the best way to ensure that any possible plant disease present does not overwinter to infect new shoots in spring. Like most hop work it’s not difficult but it is time consuming and hands on. Each bine is cut off close to the ground with a swap, they are placed in small piles which are later collected up and burnt, leaving the gardens neat and tidy for next year.
Winter wire working repairs have already started but that is for the next post.