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Farm News: Hop Producer Unveils Custom Equipment

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Posted: 03.26.2012

“When a variety is ready for harvest, there is a very limited window to bring the crop in. Harvesting by hand typically requires 750 labor-hours per acre. That just isn’t sustainable” says James Altwies, Director & Horticulturist of

For seven years, Gorst Valley Hops of Mazomanie has been working to reestablish Wisconsin's identity as a quality hop producing state.  While concentrating on the physical establishment of the crop - and ideal harvest windows - Gorst Valley also realized how critical mechanical harvesting would become.  So, like many farmers with challenges, Gorst Valley created their own solution.

 

Gorst Valley Hops and Director of Bine Implement. “When growers look to existing harvesting infrastructure, they find commercial equipment from Germany that is designed to handle 50 to 100 acres; a far cry from the 1 to 10 acres most of our growers are focused on. Importing used equipment is quite expensive, beginning at $30,000 and surpassing six figures with transportation and refurbishing included. We've [Gorst Valley Hops] removed barrier after barrier for small scale hop farmers, which now includes this harvesting equipment that required several years of R&D to develop a cost effective, simple, safe design.”


This effort also led to the formation of Bine Implement, an equipment manufacturer focused on delivering quality, affordable small farm equipment for high value niche crops, like hops. The first focus of Bine Implement was to develop a piece of equipment that could quickly, safely and economically harvest the crop. “I’m really proud of the picker and sorter combination we have created” states Daniel Dettmers, Process Engineer for GVH and Bine Implement. “We looked at the equipment offered for the 300+ acre growers and realized it was just too complex to be affordable for our growers. Instead, we drew our inspiration from the patents issued to the Sauk County growers in the 1860’s during Wisconsin’s first Hops Craze. Those guys were very inventive but the problem was that their designs were way ahead of the manufacturing capabilities of their day.” Dettmers continues, “The design of the Bine 3060 Harvester incorporates the best from modern hops harvesting equipment with the simplicity of those designs from over a century ago. We have tested the concept over the last two harvest seasons and are ready to release it for sale the public.”

Further information on the Bine 3060 Harvester can be found on Bine Implement’s website at www.bineimplement.com.

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