Forth Year Hop SproutsBy
We have had an amazingly mild winter this year in Minnesota and today I checked and found hop sprouts on my Magnum hop plant. These Magnum hops are the same hop
plant that almost died last year of a boron deficiency. This is March 13th – 70 degrees today, the earliest these plants have sprouted. The Cascade and Nugget hops have not sprouted yet. I uncovered them from their protective mulch which I probably could have gotten by without this year. We had no -20 or -30 degree below zero fahrenheit temps this winter. Fine by me, I hate temps below 0, even though I have lived in the Minneapolis, Mn area my whole life.
Our normal planting time for less hardy plants here in zone 4A is May 15th. Hops are hardier and mine have survived 20+ degree temps several times. We will probably have a few more freezes and maybe even snow yet. I am not worried. If it does get cold enough to kill the hop sprouts or bines, there will be more to replace them. Many folks cut the first sprouts that grow with the belief that they will come back stronger, you can even cook these hop sprouts like asparagus – another use for hops. I have not tested cutting the hop sprouts out myself, I just let them go (other than cutting the sprouts that are not chosen by me to climb the ropes). If you have solid evidence this helps, hurts or makes no difference, leave a comment.
I should have the earliest topping out of the hop bines yet – these three hop plants – Nugget, Magnum and Cascade have a peak height of 13 to 15 feet (Magnum has the garage peak at 15 feet). The purpose of this blog is to document and share what works and what doesn’t work for growing hops. May 29th is the earliest documented hops bines topping out on this blog (I believe I had an earlier topping out, but apparently I did not document it). At this rate, I could have the bines easily topping out by April 30th – a month earlier than the May 29th recorded topping out.
I had placed a couple articles on other uses of hops – hop pillows and hop wreaths. I don’t want to scare my core audience of home brewers away. Just widening the audience to the beauty and versatility of growing hops during the time I cannot grow or write about my hop growing. The response has been phenomenal. Hops make great cover plants for gazebos, pergolas, arbors, privacy fences… Hops also make herbal teas for relaxation and stress relief, hop pillows as a sleep aid, hop wreaths and any other creative use you can come up with. Hops are very versatile (and good points to sell your significant other on why you should be growing hops!).