My hops sprout about the first day of spring. Here in Minnesota, about latitude of 45 degrees, these hops are behind most of the readership’s of this blog. Today the temp peaked at 39 degrees fahrenheit. We have had a few days of 50’s and 60’s (prematurely warm, but now we are below normal temps) – again.
Traditionally I will spot hop sprouts about now. I think the latest I have seen them break ground was about April 15th. They almost always reach the rooftop (13 to 15 feet) by
June 1st. In the next 10 day forecast, only Tuesday 3/28 has any sunshine predicted. Not much growth until we get some sun.
This is the ninth year these hops have been alive. Left to right (look at previous posts), Nugget, Magnum and Cascade hops. Two bittering (high alpha acid) hops and one aroma hop plant (Humulus lupulus).
This is also the ninth year I have used the same ropes and pulley system. It might be the last as the ropes are showing exposure wear. I way over spec’ed the ropes by using 1/4 inch nylon rope with a tensile strength of about 500 pounds – way more than the hop bines they hold. The advantage is I only had to rig the pulley system once and I don’t need a ladder anymore (I don’t like heights). The pulleys are mounted on the underside of my garage roof eves. The ropes are tied to stakes in the ground, go up to the
pulley and back to tie cleats I have mounted on the garage wall. When it is harvest time I just lower the bines and pick the hop cones from the ground.
Sorry, not much to show so far but it’s a start to the 2017 hop growing season. I would love to hear how your hops are doing. If you haven’t started growing hops, order some hop plants or hop rhizomes from one of these vendors on my post:
I actually harvested last weekend on 9/18. I am just getting around to
posting about it. This is year 8 for these hops and I ended up with a couple pounds of “wet” cones. They were fairly dry, squeezed easily, were papery dry and bounced back – passed the time to harvest test.
This was an ok year for the hops harvest, but not the best. Each year has it’s challenges, this year was lots of rain.
I re-raised the bines after the harvest as I always do so they can store the sun’s energy in the root stock / crown for next years growth.
In a month or so, the bines will die off. At that time I will cut them off just above ground level and cover the crowns with compost, leaves and grass clippings. This will help protect them from 20 below zero temps (and colder) this winter. Hops are pretty hardy, but I have lost some to extreme cold temps (A large potted Fuggle) that the wind blew away my insulating leaves and snow.
The compost, leaves and grass clippings will help feed the bines next year as well as protect over the winter. The hops are planted in mounds to keep standing water from rotting the roots. The mounds do get washed away a bit during rain downpours so it helps to build them back up with organic materials.
That’s it for this season. Leave a comment about how your hops fared this year. Hopefully it was a good growing season for everyone. Till next year, Hop On!
August 28th I harvested my Magnum and Cascade hops. The Magnum could have been harvested last week but I didn’t have time, so I picked them both today. It took 1 7×52 cigar (Gran Habano 2002 Reserve) to pick both – about an hour and 20 minutes. Yesterday was raining, today it was humid, 88 degrees and sunny. A bit hot for my taste, but you take what you get for weather.
The Magnum take was only 14 ounces (wet). The Cascade provided 2 pounds (wet) – close to normal for the Cascades, the Magnum were light this year. I did have the Magnum bines break off the top 2 feet and that part of the bines was stuck at the top of the rope – they did not lower with the rest of the bines. This is the first time this has happened – so I missed some cones. I didn’t want to break out my tall ladder for the cones stuck up top of the ropes.
I have a pulley at the top and lower the bines to harvest from ground level. Harvesting on a ladder is hard on the legs and back, not to mention a bit more dangerous. Generally the pulley system has been flawless. You have to tug on the ropes as the hop bine laterals wind around the up rope and the lowering rope (opposite sides of the pulley).
I still have the Nugget hops to harvest. They won’t be ready for a week or 2. They usually ripen 2 weeks after the Cascade hops. That will be my next update.
Well I hope everyone that is growing hops has a good year. Leave a comment how your hop growing season went. If you are thinking about growing hops, go for it, they are easy to grow. Prepare the area now for next year. Add compost, leaves and or grass clippings to the dirt for some organic food and soil structure (don’t use grass clippings if it has fertilizer and/or weed killer applied to the grass).