Young Hop BinesBy
Young Hop Bines – this is no April fool’s joke. About 2 and a half weeks since the hop shoots were uncovered and they are now about a foot and a half to 2 feet tall. They are finding the ropes on their own or with a little help from me. This is an early start for here in Minnesota. Other years it was Early May or mid April before hop shoots appeared. We had a very mild winter and an early spring this year. There is still a strong possibility of a freeze here (statistically). We will see what the rest of the year brings, but I am anticipating an earlier harvest this year with the head start these hop bines have.
Amazingly the Magnum hops are the tallest of the 3 (Nugget, Magnum and Cascade). This is after they almost died last year from a boron deficiency (hint, check the sitemap tab on the menu bar under the header image for a list of all posts). I do not plan on allowing another boron deficiency this year, I will spray them with a boron product to prevent this. As I try and stay as organic as possible, I plan on top dressing the soil with kelp, bone meal and blood meal and compost. The compost will help feed the hop plants and help to retain soil moisture.
A lot of folks ask me what kind of rope, twine or cord to use. That is up to you, but I like nylon rope as
it is strong as heck, doesn’t rot, and bugs and critters do not eat it. This is year 4 with the same rope for me and it is showing no sign of wear and tear. I leave it up year round exposed to the elements and it lasts a long time. My pulley system and leaving the rope up saves me a lot of time and besides, I am not good with heights. Heights don’t bother me so much as the fear of landing if I should fall off the ladder. After mounting the pulleys up top, the only ladder time is cutting bines between the up and down ropes. Then I lower the bines as I am harvesting. Once I am done harvesting hop cones, I raise the bines back up to continue gathering energy through the leaves to be stored in the hop crown or root stock for next years growth. Also if there are some immature hop cones, you can give them some more time to grow and then start to dry on the bines.
If we get some good sunshiny weather, I anticipate the hop bines to top out Early May. That will be the earliest they have topped out so far.