Archive for Fifth Year Hops
Now we are getting closer to our goal, hop burrs and hop cones. The Nugget hops are in the hop burr stage and the Magnum are in the lead with the larger hops yet the Cascade has the most hop cones. In the past the Cascade and Magnum mature about the same time and the Nugget are always a couple weeks behind. That works for me because I don’t have to harvest all 3 at the same time.
It takes one person a couple hours to harvest one bine so I wouldn’t want to spend six hours straight picking hops.
Sometimes I have help but then you have to help harvest your helpers hops so it really saves you no time (especially since my friend that helps has 10 times the amount of hop bines as me). It is a great homebrew bonding thing but I am usually pressed for time.
This is a pastime and not a career for me. Besides, it is probably cheaper to buy hops than my time is worth. It is not about the money though, it’s the whole experience. It is always good to have control of your supply in case of another hop shortage like in 2007 (if I remember correctly). Growing your own hops also gives you the option of wet hop brewing (brewing with fresh, undried hops). Aside from the aspect of saving money (or not), they are just fun to watch grow.
It has been a while since my last update. I was out of town for 8 days and I had been having technical difficulties updating this blog (I could not sign in!). Well I finally solved the
signing in problem (a missing file in WordPress due to a security plugin) and can now update again. The hop bines have filled out and are doing well. They are just beginning to form hop burrs (the beginning of hop cones). My wife apparently watered sufficiently while I was gone (a rare dry streak).
The Magnum hops are doing well for the second year in a row. The previous 2 years I had struggled with a boron deficiency that stunted and almost killed the Magnum – the Cascade and Nugget did not seem to be as susceptible. We have been having an abundance of rainfall which leeches the nutrients out of the ground so I have been top dressing the soil with compost and kelp. I have given the bines 3 sprayings with Miracle-Gro as an insurance policy against the soil leeching. We have had several 2, 3 and 4 inch rainfalls and yesterday had another 4.5 inches of rain. Now that hop burrs are starting to form, I will not spray them anymore this season. I don’t want any chemicals on my hop cones.
Avoid Dissimilar Varieties Intertwining
These hops are planted about 7 feet apart at the base but the 2 plants on the outsides of the center peak, angle in a couple feet to gain some height. Here the Magnum and Cascade bines are starting to intermingle at the tops – not good. Once dissimilar hop varieties mix like this, it is difficult to separate later during harvesting. You want to keep the varieties separate, especially these 2, Magnum is a bittering hop and Cascade an aroma hop. All I did was take a telescoping pole and separate them. I swung them to the opposite side of the bine heading downward (their weight is getting to be too much unsupported to keep going up or sideways).
As you can see from the 3 in this picture, the laterals are not close enough (yet) to try to intermingle. They have in the past and they probably will again, I just stay on top of it and don’t let them by separating with a pole and “train them” to go down or wrap to the other side away from the next bine. One year I didn’t stay on top of it (I was out of town for a week) and thought I would just separate them at harvest time – BIG MISTAKE. It took at least an hour to untangle and there was still some intermixing. That’s why it is important to keep them separate, unless they are the same variety, then it doesn’t matter.
Morale of this post – when planting, plant similar varieties 3 feet or more apart and dissimilar varieties at the bare minimum 5 feet apart. This was an important point to make to save you some agony in the future. I hope this helps you out.