First Year Hops


    First year hops update.  It has been 2 months since I planted the hop rhizomes.  I figured it is time for an update (and a reason to visit the hop growing blog).  When they were first growing, the Nugget and Magnum hops were significantly ahead of the Cascade hops (by about 50% in height).  At the 2 month marker, the Nugget hops are 7 feet tall, the Magnum hops are 5 feet tall and the cascade hops passed the Magnum and is at 6 feet tall.

    First Year Nugget Hops

    First Year Nugget Hops

    The Nugget hops are the tallest hop bines at this point in time (2 months).  The Nugget bines do receive just a little bit more direct sunlight so I don’t consider this a fair race to the top.  I have 2 bines sharing this rope and they are perfectly spaced and growing as a double helix (as are the other 2 hop plants).

    My neighbor says he thinks the hops are cool.  I was a bit worried about using the white rope as it sticks out like a sore thumb against my brown garage.  White was not my first choice in color, I was actually looking for green but white was all they had.  I did not have time to shop around so white it is.

    The only fertilizer I have used is a little bone meal and blood meal.  I am staying organic all the way with these hops.  I will soon use some compost tea (as soon as my compost nears completion).

    So far I have not had an issue with deer or rabbits eating my hops bines.  I believe a rabbit got one of my nugget bines but that was before I had selected the 2 best bines to grow and I clipped the rest of the hop shoots.  Since then the bines have been left alone.

    I am looking at buying / using a soil inoculant as the soil on the side of my garage has been neglected forever.  My wife’s peonies, surrounded by rock mulch has not seen much organic matter.  I had to dig up rock and plastic to make holes for the hop plants.  Last fall I dug down a foot and 2 feet in diameter.  I mixed in grass, leaves and wood ashes to supplement the soil.  There wasn’t much black dirt or topsoil so I added some with the organic materials.  The hop bines seem to be doing ok for first year hops.  I am looking at some beneficial ground bacteria and mycelium (mushroom type fungus) which helps the roots – root stalk / crown absorb nutrients from the soil.

    First Year Magnum Hops

    Magnum Hops First Year

    First Year Magnum Hops
    First Year Cascade Hops

    First Year Cascade Hops

    Categories : Growing Hops


    1. Depends on your climate / micro-climate. Here in Minnesota, you generally plant between April and early May. May 15th is the plant date here in zone 4 for tomatoes and other frost susceptible plants. I would assume you could plant as soon as hop rhizome vendors ship which is around March. Here in MN we have to store the rhizomes in the refridgerator until the ground is thawed and “hard frost” danger is over.

    2. James Roberts says:

      I live in central Arkansas too. When do you plant hops here? I’m about 35 miles south of Little Rock.

    3. Eventually you will want to cut them down. I leave mine up to gather sunshine for energy for next year until they become ratty looking. Then I cut them down level with the ground. These bines will not come back next year. New sprouts will emerge next spring and as second year hops, you won’t believe how fast they will grow and top out. If you are in a cold climate, you will want to mulch over them to protect from freezing. Congrats on your first year!

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