Early Start to 7th Year Hops?By
March 5th it was 10 below zero. Nine days later it is 60 degrees! Note the bottom right readout (outside temperature -10.8F!). What a change. This does not mean it won’t get cold again, it is not even officially spring yet. Here in Minnesota we don’t plant gardens until about May 15th (generally the last frost of the season).
Hops are very hardy plants once established. Do not plant rhizomes if it might drop below freezing, they won’t survive. My hops have be subjected to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and survived no problem once they made it past their first winter. Here where it gets down to 30 below zero some winters, you have to cover the root stock with an insulating 6 inches of compost or leaves and grass. Straw or hay can also be used as an insulating cover.
Generally I do not uncover them until mid-April but we have been on an above average temp run for 10 days now. Previous to that, we were abnormally colder than average (-10 is not an average low for March). We’ll see what this season brings.
I wanted to get them uncovered and see how early they will top out this year. They usually top out Mid May to June 1st (15 feet high at the center peak of my garage). I already have a couple sprouts. Also, I had covered some bines (usually cut to the ground) and they have buds on them like rhizomes. I had read about burying bines and they would send up sprouts – this proves it.
I shot this video showing the sprouts and the buds coming from the buried bines. It seems like a good way to replicate hops fast as rhizomes do not produce that fast. After about 3 seasons, you will have sprouts / bines popping up away from the main hops crown from the rhizomes. They travel just under the surface of the soil and self propagate in every direction. Unless that is what you want, you have to trim the rhizomes back to the crown or root stock (careful not to damage it).