hop trellis plans

Building a small scale commercial hop trellis is a huge undertaking. Even a small project requires a lot of planning, good communication skills, management of time and financial details. The hop trellis plans for Simple Earth Hops establishes a 1/4 acre hopyard measuring around 100' x 100'.

Below is a Google Docs (Power Point style) slide-show presentation of the Simple Earth Hops 1/4 acre trellis parts list.

Here is a video by UVM Extension NW Crops & Soil Team featuring Roger Rainville owner of Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT. Roger describes how he is constructing a hopyard for UVM Extension NW Crops and Soils Team hops variety trial.

Here are some additional photos from the Simple Earth Hops trellis setup. 

3 photos above from Simple Earth Hops - Trellis Setup

For more infomation:
view the "Building the hop trellis" post on the Simple Earth Hops website to see additional photos of setting up and building a small scale commercial hop trellis.
Small scale commercial or backyard hop trellis designs and plans are also available at the Hop Trellis Plans link category at Fatty Matty Brewing.
This article also appears in duplicate in the Madison Hops Examiner category.


  1. Matt:
    looking to establish a hopyard, finding it difficult to obtain specific info on design ie: bed width, bed spacing, bed preparation, pole spacing-seems vague on 7 x7 or 3.5 x 14? what about interior pole placing? I only want to do this once so any and all assistance would be appreciated


  2. @Greg -

    thanks for taking the time to include your questions on the website to share with others. The best I can do is tell you the way I did it and you can go from there. Also, let me know if it is convenient for you to come visit the hopyard some time and you can see with you own eyes what I did with the hopyard design as it relates to pole spacing etc.

    I would like to preface my answers with a heads up that the Simple Earth Hops hopyard is different than most hopyards. It is small. A quarter acre. Because of the current scale challenges with harvesting / cone separation equipment NOT being available to small scale commercial hop farms in Southwest Wisconsin -- this hopyard is designed for hand picking old school style. The hop rows are placed between the poles and we are not using V-shape stringing onto the upper trellis cables which seems to be the convention for larger hopyards using harvesting machinery.

    BED WIDTH - this was determined by a few factors. Tilling, our tiller was 5 feet wide using the implement on the tractor then on the second round, just before planting we tilled all the rows with a hand held tiller which was 2 feet wide. By the time we tilled with the hand tiller, the native orchard grasses and native hopyard prairie plants had already begun to grow back. With the plants in the ground, we completed the hop rows by mulching. This mad the completed rows to be a final width of about 3 or 4 feet wide each.

    BED SPACING - the Simple Earth Hops hopyard is designed to accomodate 10 feet between each row from the center of a row to the next center of the row (actual aisle width spacing including the bed width is more like 8 feet of orchard grass.

    POLE SPACING - I researched this for some time. The hopyard poles are spaced 50 feet apart within the rows and 10 feet apart between each row. This 1/4 acre hopyard is small enough that I was able to engineer the trellis with intent of being able to handle and extra load on the trellis, ie wind. Large commercial hop plantations use 25', 30', 40' and 50 feet spacing between poles.

    When you refer to "...7 x7 or 3.5 x 14..." this is talking about planting grids (spacing between plants within rows and spacing between rows) not pole spacing.

    PLANT SPACING - the Simple Earth Hops hopyard has plants spaced between 4.1 feet and 3.8 feet. Each row (100') included 25 plants. Each row has a pole on each end and a pole in the middle of the 100' @ 50'. With that one side of the row (50') was planted with 13 plants spaced @ 3.8' apart and the other side of the row (the other 50' on the other side of the center pole) was planted with 12 plants spaced 4.1' apart.

    Here are the URLs for a JPEG and PDF of the Simple Earth Hops hopyard:



    Just to sum it up again:

    - ~50 feet spacing between poles
    - 3 poles per row / 30 poles per 1/4 acre
    - ~10 feet between rows / 10 rows total
    - 1/4 acre = 10,890 SF ([104']~100 feet per side)
    - (fat dash line) guyline artwork in PDF & JPEG is not to scale

  3. lets say I wanted to do this, but about 5 acres worth....do I need to follow this 1/4 acre plan, or can I emplace the ground anchors once the entire 5 acre grid has been established?

  4. @Matt Caple - you can certainly install the ground anchors after the trellis is in place, yes that would be fine.

  5. I am putting in a small hopyard this spring. I see you mention 18' posts. Are you setting 3' or 4' in the ground? Where did you find the posts? I am having a difficult time finding a source near me in NW Ohio. At this point I will drive a few states away to get what I need.

    1. Cool thanks for the interest! We were shooting for 4 feet holes but in some cases we were augering into rock so the shallowest was 3 feet and deepest was 4 feet. We used our local WI DNR to find black locust poles. You can read more about where we harvested the hop trellis poles at http://www.simpleearthhops.com/2010/03/locally-harvested-black-locust-hop.html or http://www.simpleearthhops.com/2010/04/hauling-hop-trellis-poles.html

      Also I thought you might be interested in attending my commercial hops webinar. Its online meeting where you can ask questions and learn from me about how I run my commercial hops business. Info is at http://hopsontap.eventbrite.com/

  6. how did you select, harvest and cure your black locust poles? I have had no luck getting more than 5 or 10 years out of a pole spring cut and set into the ground without curing

    1. The BL poles we selected were at least 8 inches diameter at the bottom and no smaller than 4 inches at the top diameter. Selection included straight poles which were 18' long. For curing, you can girdle the bark about a foot up from the bottom of the trees effectively cutting of the trees vascular system-killing the tree and leaving it in the ground dead standing for 2 years. When we harvested the trees were dry and ready to go in the ground.

  7. Matt, thanks for pointing me over here for some of my answers. You mentioned on another page that there is only one vendor we have as an option for WI hops growers. Is that Gorst Valley? Are you part of their Charter Grower Program and is that a good option for a beginning commerical hops grower? We are attending their workshops in October, but I am also looking forward to your webinar. My main question right now is, at what point do you start to realize some income from your hopyard (notice I didn't say profit)? Is it the second year or even later than that? What sort of irrigation system do you use? Thanks for all the information!

  8. Hi! I just returned from
    attending the Northeast Hop Alliance conference in NY and am planning a quarter acre-ish yard in southeast pa. Your hopyard plans are almost exactly as I was thinking for myself. I'd like to incorporate plantings for beneficials and soil building as it seems you have done. A few questions: Is there anything that you would have done differently? and Do you find that the vegetation from companion planting holds moisture and encourages disease/fungus? and Do you feel it has been worth it...yields/profits vs installation costs? Thank you very much for what you have already included in your website! Michaelann

  9. Matt,

    Just a quick question, how did you know where to set your cable tension, and do you adjust your tension through the growing season and at harvest (countering load)?

  10. Where did you purchase cable from?

  11. Matt, I am in the initial phases of researching a one acre hop yard. Our property is hilly, I see many of the trellis designs and such are really suited to nice level land. Am I California dreaming wanting to grow these hops on hills? Your thoughts or places that are doing this successfully?