The Story of the Flax Cutter and the Hops

Silky Store was fortunate to visit local hop farm Kentishman Hops recently, and discovered quite a remarkable story...

Guy Coddington and Krista Eaton have Kentishman Hops in the Moutere Valley, just outside of Nelson. They've owned the farm for just over 14 years and have over 250 plants that they carefully string, train, harvest and prune every season, to ensure they get the best production possible. And interestingly, they are also one of the few hop farms left in New Zealand that still hand cut their hops.

But what exactly are hops? Well, they're essential to making beer. And we like beer - so of course we think hops are pretty important!

The plant part of the hop that is used to brew beer is the pale green cone looking thing, and those bits are full of what's called prerishable resins. And this is the stuff that gives beer bitterness when used early in the brewing process, and aroma when added at the end. Due to the moisture content in hops though, they need to be dried in a kiln as soon as possible after harvesting, and the majority of those dried ones then go through a pelleting process. However, for those wanting to brew with fresh hops straight off the vine, it's best to get them to a brewery as quickly as possible and get them into the brew (ideally the same day).


Interesting Fact: did you know that some brewers fly to the Nelson region during harvest time and then fly their hops back to their brewery to get them into the brew in the quickest possible time. Some local breweries are extremely fortunate however to only be 15 minutes drive away!

Another important but usually time-consuming part of the process of growing hops is the pruning. And that's where we come into the story...

Guy and Krista employed a couple of South American backpackers a couple of years ago to help with their pruning, and told them they'd be given some tools when they started. But the couple said they didn't need anything provided because they had their own "cutters". Those cutters happened to be small very sharp curved serrated tools that looked just like the flax cutters we have at the Silky Store. And when told how long they had to get the work done, the new staff said they'd be able to get through that in half the time.

Guy and Krista laughed, but with a little curiosity watched, and to their amazement... the work was indeed done in half the time it usually took them. 

The cutters are a small hand sickle that have been used for thousands of years to harvest rice fields, but in more recent years they have evolved into flax and fibrous plant cutters used across the world. They're not saws and aren't designed to cut thick wood, but by simply holding the plant material firmly and pulling the tool towards you (one way), they are incredibly efficient.

Needless to say, Guy and Krista are more than happy now with the cost savings they've been able to achieve with these little tools, and continue to use them every year during pruning time.

Click Here to take a look at the Maruyoshi Flax Cutters we have available. 

And to find out a bit more on Kentishman Hops, check out the video below...

And for more information on the flax cutters and all our tools, visit the website or give us a call on 03 547 6874.