High hopes for Pontiac Hops

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Kate Aley

Spring time means gardeners are busy planting, planning and pruning … and the employees of Pontiac Hops, based in Luskville, are no exception.

The business, owned by James and Anthony Nugent, is in its third year of operation and is currently preparing to add a new three-acre field to the farm. The first year the pair put in 3,000 plants; now the count is close to 8,700.

Last week, two workers on a hydraulic platform were 40 feet in the air attaching lengths of string made of coconut fiber as support for the new vines.

On the ground, another person was driving in the special anchors to hold the string in place. Behind them, others were beginning the twisting process that will help the young plants grow to their full height.

The new vines have to be twisted clockwise by hand to in order that they climb effectively.  Two to three strong vines are enticed along each cord. Extra shoots, including the very aggressive but non –fruitful “bull” vines, are cut down.

Another important task at this time of year is removing the runners from the central rhizomes which emerge in the paths between the rows. Dense white clover creates a green ground cover as well as fixing nitrogen in the earth.

“Some of these we replant, but otherwise we need the rows to be clear,” explained James. “This year we are dividing the rhizomes and replanting from our own stock as well as putting in some some new vines we have purchased.”

At harvest, the cord is cut at the top and bottom and both the vine and the cord are sent to the processing plant where the flowers (known as cones) are removed.

The Nugent's grow the most popular and strongest varieties of hops for brewers: Cascade, Chinook and Centennial.

“This crop is almost completely pre-sold,” said James. “It’s nice to have it spoken for. Most of it is going to microbreweries that want local hops; they are our main clients. They generally buy fresh or dried hops, rather than the pelletized version that the bigger brewers want.”

“After the hops are twined we have some breathing space,” he continued. “We need to look after irrigation and watch for pests and disease. All our hops plants are certified, so they are strong to begin with and are not generally susceptible to disease. The plants should be productive for 15 to 20 years.”

After cropping in mid to late August, the rest of the plant is entirely cleared to the ground for winter.

Pontiac Hops employs between eight to ten people, some coming from as far away as Campbell’s Bay and Gatineau, including a number of local students.

When the last of the three-acre fields is planted, construction will begin on a building to house a dryer in order to bring the fresh hops down to the necessary 8 -10% humidity.

The Nugents are grateful for the advice from the Hops Co-op members, particularly growers Charles Allard and Jacques Lance from the MRC Pontiac.

“It’s better to help each other than to compete,” said Anthony. “We were lucky; so many people had done a lot of the research [before we started planting].”

“That’s the idea [of the co-op],” added James. “To share experiences and knowledge.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nos autres nouvelles / Our other News

Warming up for Christmas at the Santa Claus Parade

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Kate Aley

Once more the Quyon Lions' Club Santa Claus Parade, held Saturday December 9, was a great success. Warmly-dressed families lined the streets to enjoy the decorated floats, horses and of course, St. Nick himself. As the Beach Barn is conspicuously absent this year, the parade's normal route was reversed, with participants gathering at the Ste. Marie's Catholic church parking lot and walking down the hill to the intersection with Clarendon. From there, the parade continued to the Onslow Elementary School gym where hot food and drinks were served as kids lined up to speak to Santa about a few important matters.

Slippery sh*t: unidentified effluent causes accident

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Kate Aley

A serious single-vehicle roll-over was caused early morning on December 4 by a deep slick of some kind of waste matter spilled on Highway 148 near Parker Road in Luskville. Pools of what appeared to be septic waste or liquid animal manure were at least two or three meters in length and possibly 4 cm in depth, according to witnesses.

Christmas House Tour lights up the night

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Kate Aley

The houses on the Quyon Pastoral Charge Christmas House Tour warmly received 150 visitors this year. Five family homes in Quyon and Luskville were decorated to perfection to the appreciation of all. Above, the Draper homestead in Luskville.

Scheer in Pontiac: We shouldn’t let the politics of envy divide one group of Canadians against another

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Thomas Soulière

SHAWVILLE — The leader of the Conservative Party of Canada spent the first day of December visiting the federal riding of Pontiac with stops in Campbell’s Bay, Fort Coulonge and Shawville to speak to farmers, small business owners and voters about the CPC’s position on the Liberal government’s tax policy and to show the Conservative’s strong support of supply management.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: Luskville craft bazaar

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by: 

Kate Aley

Slippery driving and chilly weather did not deter participants from attending the annual craft bazaar and breakfast event at the Luskville Community Centre on Sunday, November 19th.

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