Today in 2004, US Patent 6769981 B1 was issued, an invention of Kenneth J. Perrault and Charles J. Perrault, for their “Hop Vine Processor.” Here’s the Abstract:
A method and apparatus for the processing of hop vines. An automated hop processor cuts bulk-harvested hop vines into manageable segments with a minimum of handling operations. The bulk of hop vines are off-loaded onto an in-feed conveyor by positioning a transport on the in-feed conveyor. After verifying proper position of the transport a fork can be inserted into the transport. The transport is moved off of the in-feed conveyor and the fork removed from the bulk of hop vines. The Hop vines are then moved on the in-feed conveyor to a cutter, after verifying the transport is clear of the in-feed conveyor. The in-feed conveyor is stopped when the hop vines are in position for cutting and the hops are cut with a cutting mechanism. The cut hop vines are then conveyed to a shredder for shredding and further processing into component hop cones and hop vine silage.