Hops Survive Hard Freeze

    Outdoor thermometer shows a hard freeze of 25 degrees.

    Hard Freeze Kills Many Plants

    We had a hard freeze last night.  I caught the temp on my outdoor thermometer as it was climbing, but it was 25 degrees fahrenheight when I took the picture.  Sunday, Easter morning, my birdbath had almost a quarter inch of ice on the water so it has been subfreezing at least 2 days since the hops have sprouted and the weatherman says another freeze tonight.  Good thing hops are hardy or they wouldn’t stand a chance here in Minnesota.

    Established hops are hardy (can take freezes and survive).  Newly planted hop plants or hop rhizomes sprouts are not as hardy.  My friends and I have lost newly planted hops to freezes, the hop sprouts or hop bines die off and are never replaced – the rhizome dies off (I assume not enough stored energy to produce new sprouts).  So be watchful of frost and freezing temps with newly planted hops.  Just cover them up or wrap something around them to help capture and retain the heat from the ground.  That is usually sufficient to protect them.

    Hops after a hard freeze, no sign of freezing.

    Hops Survive A Freeze

    After the first year of growth, the rhizome will become a much larger crown or root stock and store much more energy to ride out freezes in subsequent years.  I have been saying this but wanted to prove it with this post.  Also you should have some mulch covering the ground around your sprouts/bines as an extra insulator.  I use compost, leaves and grass clippings as a top dressing and insulator.  Important – never use grass clippings from a lawn that has been treated with weed killer or even fertilizer as it can kill or stunt your hops growth.

    From left to right: Nugget hops, Magnum hops and Cascade hops.  The Nugget and Magnum hop bines are about 5 feet tall.  The Cascade hop bines are trailing at about 4 and a half feet tall.  As I write this the current temp is 42 and should easily reach sub-freezing temps tonight – I am not worried as experience tells me they will survive (again).  It is supposed to start warming up after tonight (we are currently below average high and low temps for this time of year.  I believe the hop bines are still on track to top out at 13 – 15 feet (15 feet at the peak of the garage – Magnum hops).

    So there you have it, Don’t worry about freezing temps with established hops.  Protect just planted hop plants and rhizomes from freezing temps until they are established – after 1 growing season.

    Categories : Forth Year Hops


    1. Ajae,
      Thanks. Welcome to the hop growing club! I believe morning watering is best for most plants, but I don’t. I water when it is convenient and/or needed. First year they need water every day or every other depending on your soil and climate. It is good to mulch the soil to prevent rapid evaporation from wind and sun – after your hop sprouts have poked through. Grass clippings work well if it hasn’t been treated with weed killer. Growing hops should be enjoyable and not a chore so don’t get too wrapped up in the details as hops are pretty easy to grow with good soil, water, sun and something to climb (rope or twine is best).

    2. Ajae says:

      Great website, I just started growing hops this year. Planted April 1st I have 1 bine from my cascade rhizome showing it’s head. Willamtte and Cenntinel are still hiding. When do you water? I’ve been watering after I get home from work around 3:30pm. Should I water at in the morning?

    3. Generally, 3 feet apart for same variety of hops and a MINIMUM of 5 feet between different varieties of hops. Hop bines will reach out laterally and intermingle – not an issue if the same variety. If different varieties, you will spend hours trying to separate them – I know, I have done it. My hops are 6+ feet apart in the ground, but to get additional height, I angled the ropes toward the peak of my garage and I have to cut lateral growth between the bines to keep them separated now. I am seriously thinking about giving up some height to eliminate having to cut lateral growth between bines.

      Look at the picture of the 3 hop bines in the post. About 4 boards from the top, the center (Magnum) and the right bines (Cascade) have intermingled. This was even after cutting lateral growth between the 2 ropes several times.

      Hop Bines Intermingle

    4. Adam Scott says:

      I live outside of buffalo ny, Im about to transfer my hops outside because the freeze warnings have finally ended. What is your opinion on how far away from each other should they be planted?

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