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New Zealand 2019 Harvest Update: Freestyle Farms

NZ Harvest Update written by Dave Dunbar, Managing Director of Freestyle Farms

Kia ora,

Summer is here, and harvest is getting closer by the day! It looks like we’re on track to have a normal season and the plants are looking good as they enter the burr stage, where flowers begin to form. Our Motueka and Riwaka both look robust at this point, which is particularly heartening after a rough year last season. Annette is very diligent about posting updates from the farm to Instagram if you want to see more of what we are up to.

We’ve had a hot (but not extreme) season, as measured by growing degree days relative to historical averages. We know climate change is happening and now plan for hotter seasons, but still, looking at the GDD graph below is a stark reminder that every year is likely to be at the top of the graph going forward.

Precipitation has been fairly low this season and we had a solid hot spell over the holidays, but we’ve been staying on top of the irrigation and the plants have weathered it nicely. The graphs below hopefully give you a sense of that.

Last season we felt that we were really starting to understand our terroir and achieve proper harvest timing. This season we’re eager to once again deploy our knowledge and continue perfecting it to achieve the flavors and aromas we’re after. We want to continue pushing the weighted average harvest date for Nelson Sauvin slightly earlier and make other adjustments, such as pushing the Rakau later to increase the intensity of the stone fruit flavors and avoid grassiness. We are continuing to adjust the timing of late fertilizer applications across our blocks. This assists in spreading out the optimal harvest timing, allowing us to have a better chance of harvesting each block at its peak.

We’ve added a new tool to our kit this year, a near infrared spectrometer, to aid in our quest to harvest each block at the perfect time. With this we can instantaneously measure alpha, beta, oil quantity, dry matter %, and a few other key indicator compounds. We’re hoping this tool will allow us to more precisely track the maturity of each block enabling us to dial in our harvest timing and sequencing even better.

We've been pleasantly amazed by how many folks are making the journey out to the farm for lot selection this year and are truly excited about the opportunities for us to discover new insights about the hops together. We're planning to have an announcement and further updates about the Hapi Research symposium and festival out at the end of this week. Below is a link to a mini-guide to visiting us here in the Nelson area as well as our preliminary schedule for activities adjacent to lot selection and the symposium.

https://sites.google.com/freestylehops.com/2019-harvest-info/home

Ngā mihi nui,

Dave