Hops – Humulus Lupulus – in July (7/20/2009) status report. It has been a couple of weeks since my last growing hops post. All three hop plants have topped their ropes. The Magnum hops finally made it to the top – about 15 feet tall. The Cascade hops and Nugget hop bines have reached the top of their hop trellis rigging twice and I have looped them around hose hangers and pulled back slack to give them more vertical space for the hop vines to grow.
I have decided to let them top out and and leave it at that because the looped portion of the hops bines do not seem to be putting out lateral shoots (for hop flowers / hop cones) like the un-looped portion of the hop bines are. They still may produce side shoots, but that is one thing learned from this hop experiment so far. Next year I am leaning towards a spiral approach, the point being giving them as much vertical growth possible with a limited vertical space (Although many folks grow them even shorter). I am trying to maximize hop cone production with limited vertical resources (without freaking out my neighbors with hop skyscraper towers).
Who knows, I may come up with a commercial approach to maximized hops production that will be financially and labor-wise feasible. Presently I am simply looking to maximize hops production for myself and other homebrewers. To grow hops, I have held true to keeping it organic. They seem to be growing very nicely for first year hops started from hop rhizomes only 3 months ago.
The Magnum hops plant is currently 15 feet tall. The structure of this hop bine is smaller leaves, more compact – but denser foliage. The Cascade hops bine is at about 23 feet tall with the topped out bine now making it’s way back toward the ground. The Nugget hops bine is about 21 – 22 feet tall (with the length of the looped bine on the hose hanger – see previous posts). The Cascade hops lateral shoots are impressive at 3 to 4 feet in length. A couple of the side shoots have wrapped around the the lowering rope and are now spirally up that rope! The Nugget hop bines are starting to send out some impressive lateral hop shoots as well. Just hoping these lateral hops shoots will fill in with lots of hop cones. Time will tell.
The hops I am growing will be used for a relaxing hop tea, combined with other calming and relaxing herbs like chamomile, lavender, kava kava and others to make sleep aids and de-stress formulas. And of course the main function of the hops will be for making awesome beers and ales. Of the beer hops, I have 2 bittering hops (Nugget and Magnum) and the Cascade hops are for aroma hops in the beer/ale making process.