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Hot Times At Rogue Farms

The heat came on this week at Rogue Farms in Tygh Valley, where we grow 200 acres of malting barley.


Several days in the mid-90’s will keep you busy, especially when the Dare™ spring barley is in the kernel filling stage. Barley drinks a lot of water when the kernels are filling. With no rain in sight, we were busting our backs keeping up with irrigation.

The Risk™ barley is easier to take care of. Most of the heads have turned brown and soon we’ll want to turn off the water so it ripens better.

In the meantime, we have to keep our eyes on the weather. Two things this time of year can ruin a crop.

Know What You Grow: When kernels form on malting barley, they fill with a liquid substance called milk. Eventually the milk turns doughy, then hardens into seed. Barley demands so much water during the filling stage we have to do whatever we can to keep up. If there’s not enough rain – we irrigate. Without the milk, there’s no seed, nothing to malt and no beer.
Know What You Grow: When kernels form on malting barley, they fill with a liquid substance called milk. Eventually the milk turns doughy, then hardens into seed. Barley demands so much water during the filling stage we have to do whatever we can to keep up. If there’s not enough rain – we irrigate. Without the milk, there’s no seed, nothing to malt and no beer.
From Terroir to Tap: Risk barley that we planted last fall is further along. Kernels are mostly brown and getting ripe. This is when we want to stop watering – it helps the barley dry out and harden. We expect to harvest in late July or early August.
From Terroir to Tap: Risk barley that we planted last fall is further along. Kernels are mostly brown and getting ripe. This is when we want to stop watering – it helps the barley dry out and harden. We expect to harvest in late July or early August.

With no more than a month or so before we harvest the Risk™, what could go wrong?

Our two big worries this time of year are wildfires and hail storms. Not far from here, much of Eastern Oregon is under a Red Flag Warning, which means the risk of wildfires is especially high. Although we’ve never been hit by wildfire, one came uncomfortably close a couple of years ago. We could see the glow from the flames at night.

Hail storms are more likely. Humidity can reach 80% or higher out here in summer, perfect “fuel” for those big storms that blow in from the Cascades. A few minutes of hail can wipe out a crop real fast and there’s nothing you can do about it.

These are some of the risks you take in farming. But if you want to grow the best possible ingredients for beer and spirits, these are the kind of risks you have to be willing to take.