Nugget Hops Harvest 2013By
The Nugget hops are the last to harvest. They have always been a couple weeks behind the Cascade and Magnum harvests. I currently only have 3 hop plants, one of each variety – Cascade (aroma hop), Magnum (bittering hop) and Nugget (bittering hop). Harvesting by hand takes me between 1 to 2 hours per plant – with 3 to 5 bines per rope. By using my pulley system to lower the bines, makes it easy to pick at a comfortable standing height.
The Nugget hop cones are small this year for some reason. My guess is the heavy rains this spring and early summer leached the soil. I had top dressed the soil with compost but it was mostly washed away. I will do a better job next year amending the soil and preventing washout of compost and kelp. When I originally prepared the soil, it was fill. I dug down about a foot and a couple feet in diameter and mixed in compost, leaves, grass and black dirt with the sandy fill. I think the hop crowns or root stock have exhausted most of those nutrients.
These bines are 13 feet tall and produce about half a pound of dried hops. Optimally you would want 18 to 20 feet for maximum production per plant, but I don’t have that luxury on this south side of the garage. Perhaps my next house I can build a double decker garage or better yet, set aside some land just for hops and rig them 20 feet high! We’ll see.
The ladder in the picture is for cutting lateral branches that cross from the one rope to the lowering rope and wrap around it. I didn’t need it for the Nugget or the Magnum hop bines, the rope seemed to slide through without much resistance. The Cascade bines needed to have the wrapped around lateral branches cut from the lowering rope. The ladder came in handy for holding beers and cigars while I was picking hop cones though.