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Department of Agriculture
Rogue FarmsIndependence, Oregon
Latitude: 44.8 degrees north - Longitude: 123.1 degrees west - Elevation: 170 feet
Growing The Revolution
The Rogue Farms hopyard in early June. Bines are just starting to reach the trellis wires.
A million new honeybees, a hops, more rye, more pumpkins, more jalapenos, and our first ever harvest of rose petals. A revolution never rests and this summer is no different here at Rogue Farms.
We've done all this despite the challenges of unusual weather. 2013 started out as one of the driest years in Oregon history - changing how we do just about everything.
In Tygh Valley, we worked round the clock to irrigate our two varieties of Rogue Farms 2-row malting barley while waiting for rain to arrive. At the farm in Independence, the dry weather allowed us to get a head start on stringing the trellises, training the bines, planting the pumpkins, jalapenos and our new variety of aroma hops called Yaquina.
A freak windstorm damaged some of the rye - but it bounced back. An unusual cold spell may have ruined our orchard crops.
But there's no turning back. Time now to roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty and grow some beer and spirits.
One Million Bees, Six Million More Coming
The Rogue Nation Department of Agriculture, Department Bee, completed a major expansion in May when we added one million new honeybees to the Rogue Farms Apiary.
The new Rogue Honeybees are tough - carefully bred by Old Sol Apiaries of Rogue River, Oregon to survive the cool and rainy winters of Western Oregon. By introducing hardier bees to the Rogue Farms Apiary, we hope to avoid the heavy winter losses that have plagued beekeepers in other parts of the country.
The move had to be carefully planned to avoid stress on the honeybees. Most of the operation - from loading the hives onto our trailer, driving them back to the farm, and placing the bees around the apiary - took place at night while the bees were asleep.
The new honeybees arrived at 1:34am.
It was harder on us to do it this way, but we didn't mind. Happier honeybees mean better honey, and better honey means better tasting Mead and Honey Kolsch.
A Million Mouths To Feed
A Rogue Farms Honeybee on a wild blackberry flower.
One million new honeybees arrived just as the spring nectar flow was winding down and before the summer flow began.
The period between flows - called a nectar dearth - gave the new honeybees time to learn their way around the 1200-acre Rogue Farms apiary. Bees navigate by landmarks and the location of the sun. If they go off and forage before they become acquainted with an area, many will get lost and never return.
The summer flow arrived in June with a burst of soft pink flowers from the gazillions of wild blackberries, raspberries and marionberries that line the banks of the Willamette River. Long finger like blooms dripped from the branches of Oregon White Oak trees. The Wigrich Appellation laid out a daily buffet of nectar and pollen for our honeybees to feast upon - and our bees loved it.
With all this food and nice summer weather, the bee population was building fast. We kept busy adding extra boxes to the hives - giving the bees more room to raise their brood.
Overcrowding leads to swarming, where as many as half the honeybees in a hive can fly off and disappear. We love our honeybees and don't want them running away from home.
A Rogue Farms Honeybee Terroir
Rogue Farms Honeybees have a wide variety of wild and cultivated plants to forage on during the year.
Winter to Spring
Daffodils and other early blooming flowers
Spring To Summer
Oregon White Oaks
Spring and early Summer blooming flowers.
Summer To Fall
Rogue Farms Pumpkins
Rogue Farms Honeybees By The Numbers:
Summer Peak Population
So Much For Free Range Chicks
Faced with a dramatic increase in the population of the Rogue Farms aviary, our Free Range Chicks and Royal Palm Turkeys decided it was time to create a new Cohousing Cooperative, or Coop.
Despite the good intentions of everyone involved, a dispute over whether to invite our Potbellied Pigs Voo and Doo into the Cooperative threatened to wreck the entire process.
Eventually it was agreed to allow the pigs into the Cooperative - but only if they stayed on their side of the wall.
The new Coop is a half-acre compound with living quarters enclosed by a small fence. It was built with scrap wood found lying around the farm.
The Coop also includes nesting boxes, a daycare facility and free Wi-Fi.
The chicks, turkeys and pigs will be accepting visitors at this new facility after it's been painted.
U.S. Chicken Production:
1st Quarter 2013
Change from 2012
Eggs (table and hatching)
U.S. Turkey Production:
1st Quarter 2013
Change from 2012
Introducing The Yaquina Hop
Beer begins in the dirt.
We were reminded of that when we planted our new variety of hops in early June. No fancy hop planting equipment to do the job for us. Just a bunch of shovels, hole digging, and a ton of dirt. Five acres - thousands of rhizomes - planted one at time.
Left: John Maier with one of the Yaquina rhizomes.
Right: All five acres of Yaquina hops were planted by hand.
Called Yaquina Hops, the name pays tribute to Yaquina Bay and our hometown of Newport, Oregon. This dual purpose variety has a stronger aroma profile than the hops they replaced, giving John Maier a whole new proprietary palate of hop flavors and aromas to use as he creates new and unique ales, lagers, stouts, porters, pilsners and rye beers.
Our first harvest will be in the fall of 2014.
United States Of America Hop Report
U.S. hops stocks were 115 million pounds as of March 1st, down 4% from the year before. Despite the drop, this is the third biggest spring inventory in the past two decades.
66 million pounds
67 million pounds
62 million pounds
55 million pounds
53 million pounds
53 million pounds
121 million pounds
120 million pounds
115 million pounds
Spring In The Hopyard
The first big chore of every spring is stringing the trellis wires. Using long lines made of Sri Lankan cocoanut husks; crews tie one end of the string to the wires and let the other end drop to the ground.
Another crew follows, pushing the strings into the ground and staking them taut. It takes military like precision to get the job done without delays. Stringing and staking all seven varieties of Rogue Farms aroma hops takes about a week.
Rogue Farm Pumpkins, Dream Rye and Peppers
We more than doubled our plantings of pumpkins and rye this year, and planted our first crop of jalapeños. If you want beers with more flavor, you've got to grow more ingredients.
In less than a month, our pumpkin patch went from seeds in the ground to long rows of healthy, green shoots.
This year's six-acre patch of sweet baking and brewing pumpkins is three times bigger than it was in 2012.
We also increased our plantings of Leroy-O-Lantern pumpkins. They don't taste good, but the kids will have fun carving them up into Halloween decorations this fall.
You can't keep a good Rye down.
A freak windstorm flattened several acres of our Dream Rye field in May and we thought that we had lost 10-15% of the crop.
Two weeks later nearly all the flattened stalks were upright and growing.
On May 14th, USDA predicted that 2013 world rye production would hit 15.1 million tons, an increase of 4% over last year.
Our 35 acres of Dream Rye is an increase of 230% from 2012. And our expected harvest of 548880 pounds will be .0000001817 of the world's total.
Western Oregon is not the kind of place you normally associate with spicy food. But jalapeño peppers grow very well here. We figured that out when we planted an experimental patch last summer.
From that first patch of 50 plants, we harvested peppers with a rating of 6132 Scoville Heat Units.
This year we're expanding to 240 jalapeño peppers. We built a ¼ acre sized area of raised garden beds and planted each of those 240 peppers by hand. Naturally, the weather was hot.
Our first growth Rogue Farms jalapeños will be harvested, smoked into chipotles and brewed for future batches of Chipotle Ale and Spirits.
We never get tired of trying new ways to grow our ingredients.
This year, Rogue Farms and Oregon State University are cooperating on a small plot of
OR-76, a malting barley designed specifically by OSU to grow in Western Oregon.
It may be years before we know if this experiment will be successful. But as farmers, we've learned to be patient.
Pig On The Mend
Our Potbellied sow Voo came down with a lame leg this spring. It got so bad we call to call in a team from the Oregon State University Veterinary School. They sent us to the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital where Voo got a radiograph scan.
The diagnosis was Bilateral Stifle Osteoarthritis. It's what you and I would call arthritic knees, but in her case much worse than normal. Voo immediately went on glucosamine pills and eventually will need shots. Our Potbellied boar Doo is getting the same treatment. Voo and Doo are siblings and there's a good chance he'll end up with the same condition.
It's nothing our pigs have to worry about, but U.S. pork production is expected to fall this year. Producers are adjusting to reduced export demand. Things should recover in 2014
Left: Voo waiting for her radiograph exam.
Right: Afterwards, back on her feet and enjoying some Brussels sprouts.
United States Of America Honey Report
U.S. honey prices hit a record high in 2012, averaging $1.95 per pound for all types of honey.
2012 U.S. Honey Production:
# Of Colonies
Yield Per Colony
Price Per Pound
Colony Collapse Disorder Returns: The New York Times fired up the debate over CCD when it reported that the winter of 2012 - 2013 was devastating to honeybee stocks. Average hive losses were 30% - one of the worst years since CCD appeared in 2005.
Winter losses at the Rogue Farm Apiary were two hives, or 10.5%.
The USDA and EPA released a big report on Colony Collapse Disorder not long after the report appeared in the New York Times. Sticking to the current state of research the report said several factors cause CCD, including pesticides, parasites, poor nutrition and a lack of genetic diversity.
U.S. officials concluded there's not enough evidence to support a pesticide ban and that imposing one could have serious consequences on our food supply.
Rogue FarmsTygh Valley, Oregon
Latitude: 45.2 degrees north - Longitude: 121.2 degrees west - Elevation: 1700 feet
Beat The Heat
The 2013 Risk™ Malting Barley Field
We don't like making predictions. Too many variables in farming, especially when it comes to weather.
But... we might be having our best year ever for the Risk™ 2-row winter malting barley we grow at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, Oregon.
The Risk™ barley was full height and headed in May - kernels filling with milk by June - putting us about two weeks ahead of schedule. That's no accident. We planted the seeds several weeks early last fall so they could take full advantage of the moist and cool winters we get in the Tygh Valley appellation.
Our biggest worry during this growing stage is heat. But, if the Risk™ barley grows through the milk and doughty stages before the summer heat arrives, then our odds of getting an especially high quality, high yield crop increase dramatically.
Just Add Water
Irrigating the Dare™ spring malting barley.
The unusually dry spring was both blessing and struggle for our Dare™ 2-row malting barley.
Spring brought almost ideal planting weather. No soggy ground to slow us down. We began plowing, discing and harrowing the Dare™ fields in late February and finished planting by early April. About three weeks sooner than last year.
But ideal planting weather is not ideal growing weather. Once the seeds were in the ground we needed lots of mositure to help the roots get established and for the shoots to emerge.
After our first delivery of water we started the Dare™ barley on a strict watering regimen. Moving the gear around the field, and from field to field is around the clock back-breaking work.
The four month dry spell was broken by an inch of rain in late May. And we could finally take a rest.
Spring On The Barley Farm
Plowing, discing and harrowing the Dare™ barley fields began in February. It takes six weeks to break up the soil with the plow, disc it into smaller chunks, and harrow it to give us that fine texture we need for seeding.
A seed drill furrows the soil and then drops the seeds.
Irrigation began almost immediately.
By June, the Dare™ spring malting barley covered the fields like a lush, green carpet.
United States Of America Barley Report
In Minnesota they called it "fake spring" - wintery weather that outstayed its welcome. The late season snow and rain swelled rivers and muddied farm fields, putting farmers in Minnesota and North Dakota way behind average for planting barley.
When the weather dried out and temperatures rose, most farmers got caught up quickly and almost half the crop emerged by the end of May.
May 26, 2013
May 19, 2013
Five Year Average
May 26, 2013
May 19, 2013
Five Year Average
The outlook for the 2013 barley crop hasn't changed much. Production is estimated at 220 million bushels, the same as last year. A small decrease in acreage was offset by a small increase in expected yields.
However, prices are expected to fall an average 60¢ per bushel this year. The previous estimate was $6.40 per bushel; the new one is $5.80 per bushel.
The cherry orchard at the Rogue Barley Farm in early May.
A promising crop of Rogue Farms cherries and apples was wiped out by freezing temperatures the second week of May. The cold snap came at the worst possible time, during the peak of the bloom.
Most growers along the Columbia River reported minor losses of less than 15%. We're one of the unlucky few that lost most or all of the crop. That's how it goes with farming.
We're hoping we'll have enough fruit available for handpicking. But a real harvest is out of the question.
Rogue Farms 2013 Apple Varieties
Here's a list of the nine varieties of apples we're growing at the barley farm in Tygh Valley. The apples we grow are fermented for cider and apple beer.
DIY Malting And Roasting
We hit a steady stride at the Rogue Farms Farmstead Malt House in Tygh Valley. Every week we create a 2000# batch of floor malt and a 2000# batch of micro malt.
Don't be impressed by the numbers. Compared to a typical commercial malt run of 350,000 pounds, our 4,000 pounds looks puny.
But making a lot of malt and doing it fast was never the point. Malting the barley we grow ourselves takes longer because it's artisan crafted.
From pouring the bags of grain into the steeper, to flipping it on the floor or in the germinator, to sifting and bagging the final product - we do it all by hand.
Malting the barley in the same terroir as where it was grown is hugely important to how we do things at Rogue Farms.
We see the barley, touch the barley and sniff the barley every step along the way. That's how we know what we grow and what we brew and distill.
Above right: The Rogue Farmstead Malt House lies in the rain shadow of Mt. Hood.
Below: A rake and shovel are the only tools we use to flip the germinating barley.
Summer Weather Outlook
Summer in Oregon will look a lot like Spring, dry and warm. These conditions are expected to prevail across the state from July through September.
Rogue Seafood ReportNewport, Oregon
Latitude: 44.6 degrees N - Longitude: 124 degrees W - Elevation: 7 feet
The Rogue Brewery on Yaquina Bay in Newport, Oregon.
Dungeness: The Comeback Crab
This is the year that Oregon's Dungeness Crabs decided not to play by the usual rules.
The season opener was delayed a full month because the crabs were late to mature. But when they were ready for harvest, wow! Crabbers brought in more than 12 million pounds in January, maybe the biggest month ever.
And when it should have started fading away - the harvest kept going strong. Another 2.5 million pounds in February, 1.5 million pounds in March, 600,000 pounds in April and May. The May landings report puts the Dungeness Crab haul at 17,089,847 pounds, worth $45,593,629 at the dock. That's the third most valuable season in Oregon history. Good news for Rogue's hometown of Newport, the Dungeness Crab Capital of the World.
Oregon Pink Shrimp
After a week's delay due to price negotiations, the Oregon Pink Shrimp fishery opened in early April. After Dungeness Crab, this is the second most valuable fishery in the state.
Although it's too soon to say how this season will turn out, Oregon's shrimpers have brought in almost 6 million pounds. That's a good start and shrimping generally improves in summer. But it'll be hard to beat last year's catch of 49.1 million pounds, the second best ever.
Seasons Set For Salmon and Halibut
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says the 2013 Sport Salmon fishery is going to be a good one. The Sacramento and Klamath rivers had strong returns last year, meaning more salmon in the ocean for recreational fishermen.
The Central Coast Chinook season is open every day until the closer at the end of October. There are also two Coho seasons, one in July and another in September.
The 2013 Sport Halibut season opened in May. There's a three-day per week nearshore season that runs through October 31st, and limited all-depths seasons this spring and summer.
Halibut fisherman with his catch. Photo by Pat Kight, Oregon Sea Grant.
Please check with ODFW for the most recent information. The seasons can easily change depending on how much of the quota has been caught.
Rogue Seafood Landings - May 2013
Crabbers hauled in 17,089,847 pounds of Dungeness worth $45,593,629 as of mid-May. Commercial crabbing is limited during summer months, but remains open until August 15th.
Oregon Pink Shrimp
With less than two months into the season, shrimpers caught 5,925,158 pounds of pink shrimp worth $3,017,085 at the docks. The season closes at the end of October.
172,254 pounds of Chinook have been harvested so far, worth $ 1,279,566.
Sole (Dover, English, Rex, Petrale and Flathead)
Oregon's harvest of sole totaled 7,221,442 pound as of mid-May, worth $4,045,200.
Fishing begins in June when schools of Albacore move in close to the Oregon Coast. Last year's harvest was 9,895,062 pounds, close to the ten year average. Newport fishermen hauled in 5,035,596 pounds, more than half of the state's catch.