Hop rhizomes will spread and take over if you do not contain them.  It is the main way hops self propagate as growing from seed is less desirable and most growers only grow female hop plants – no males to pollinate the females.  Only female hop plants produce hop cones, the males are useless unless you are crossbreeding varieties of hops.  The hop rhizomes are root like structures that grow away from the root stock or crown just under the surface of the soil (sometimes on top of the soil).  Buds form on the rhizomes and new hop bines will sprout from these buds.

    Nugget hop rhizome with buds.

    Nugget Hop Rhizome With Buds

    Hop rhizomes are how you grow hops, plant a section of a viable (live) hop rhizome, buds pointing up and in 1 to 4 weeks – you have hop sprouts!  The hop plants I am trimming the hop rhizomes from are third year hops.  The first year you don’t have to worry about rhizomes as the planted rhizome has all it can do to establish it’s root stock (aka crown) and pushing up hop bines.  Second year hops will start sending out rhizomes but they are small and not yet invasive (I had a couple of hop bines pop up within a foot or so from the plant – you simply cut them off at the ground level if you don’t need them).

    Cascade hop rhizomes pulled out of the ground.

    Cascade Hop Rhizome Sections With Buds

    These are third year hop rhizomes.  They are generally smaller than when you buy hop rhizomes online from a hop yard or  home brew store.  I planted these hops in a landscaped area, between my wife’s Peonies (flowers) along the south side of our garage.  I had to dig up rock mulch and plastic – I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT – Pain in the ass.  Not only was planting them a chore, digging up the hop rhizomes sucked.  Trying to dig with rocks in the soil is tough – the area needs to be re-landscaped.  That will be another day (or year).

    Not certain if this picture is roots or rhizomes.

    Hop Roots or Hop Rhizomes?

    I dug down 4 inches in a circle with a radius of 1 foot (I wanted to go 18 inches, but THE DAMN ROCKS made it too big a chore).  Anyway there were obvious hop rhizomes with buds coming out of them.  Then there were roots or budless rhizomes – I could not tell the difference.  I pulled out everything on the outside of the circle on out.  Much of it went under the DAMN LANDSCAPING PLASTIC.  I pulled out as much as I could leaving fragments of rhizomes I am sure.  I think as long as the rhizomes don’t find a hole in the plastic, they will stay underground.  I guess I will find out how far they can go underground before popping up.

    If you are growing hops or considering growing hops, trimming hop rhizomes will be part of the deal eventually.  Not a big deal (without rocks), just use a shovel and cut a circle around the center of the hop crown.  At least a foot away from the crown so you don’t damage the plant.  Don’t forget, you can plant these hop rhizome sections (cut 4 to 6 inch sections) in other areas to grow more hop plants!  You can also give away or trade hop rhizomes for different varieties of hops.  Anyway, the south side of my garage is the only non-shaded southern exposure I have available (Hops like lots of direct sunlight) – that is why I am putting up with the rocks and plastic…

    The moral of the story is: plant in an area without landscape rocks or between other plants if possible.  If it weren’t for my wife’s “favorite Peonies”, I would have dug up all the rock and plastic.  As my hops are planted between her flowers, it would likely damage or kill them if I dug the rocks up (don’t tell her I accidentally pulled out a Peonies root stock when I pulled up what I thought was a hop rhizome – I replanted it).  When I planted my hops, I ensured my wife I would not harm her flowers.  A peace treaty I do not wish to break at this point in time.  If you are on year 3 or later of growing hops and don’t want the spread – time to trim hop rhizomes.

    Categories : Third Year Hops
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    Award Winning Hops

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    2011 Upper Mississippi Mash-Out 2nd Place US IPA!

    My hops were in the 2nd place winner for the US IPA category.

    Upper Mississippi Mash-Out Home Brew Competition

    Award winning hops from the 2010 growing season!  Ok, my friend Brad Nordine is the brew meister here that took 2nd place in the 10th annual Upper Mississippi Mash-Out (UMMO), category 14 – US IPA!  The competition was this past weekend (January 28th and 29th, 2011).  This competition is the 2nd largest in the nation!  My Magnum hops were used for bittering and he used his Chinook hops for aroma (yes, they are also a bittering hop).  See, you can make award winning beers and ales from homegrown hops!  I had one of his award winning US IPAs and it was awesome!

    Brad has been brewing for several years now and getting better and better each year.  He has got quite a setup for his all grain beer and ale making.  He has tackled many different styles successfully and is a true connoisseur.  When he recommends something, I go buy it.  I happily offer my services as a taste tester for any of his creations.  If you are in the Minnesota twin cities area, you have seen him at beer events.  He is the one that turned me onto Surly when they were an unknown upstart – now Surly Brewing has a hard time keeping up with demand – congrats on 5 years Omar, Todd and staff!

    There is not much to write about this time of year (maybe I should be in Australia or New Zealand writing about hops?), so when Brad told me he took second place and my hops were involved, I figured I would put this together.  Check out the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out website and consider attending (maybe even entering) next year.  You can see Brad’s entry here:

    2011 Upper Mississippi Mash-Out – Category 14 – US IPA

    Brad deserves all the credit here but he doesn’t have a website or blog for me to plug.  His wife Julie does some amazing custom glass work so checkout her site (Valentine’s day is around the corner).  She also makes custom glass handled beer openers!

    Julie Nordine – Credit River Art Glass – Tell her Tony sent you.

    The moral of the story here is – you can make amazing beers and ales using homegrown hops.  If you are not growing hops, why not?  If you have the space and the climate – just do it.

    Categories : Second Year Hops
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    Nugget hop bine picture

    Nugget Hop Bines

    Nugget hops harvest – September 18th I harvested the Nugget hops.  Two Weeks after the Cascade, Magnum and Fuggle hops.  Same as last year – 2 weeks after my other hops were ready and harvested.  I had three bines on this one rope and harvested exactly one kilo or 2.2 pounds of wet hops.  They are really not that wet as they have dried somewhat on the bines.

    Last years Nugget hop cone harvest was 1.3 pounds – 70% more than last years first year hop harvest.

    Nugget hop harvest in a paper grocery bag.

    Nugget Hop Harvest

    Generally hops dry out to end up at 20 to 25% of the wet hop weight.  If that holds true for this batch, I will end up with .44 to .55 pounds of dry hops.  Splitting the difference, I will end up with about 8 ounces of dry Nugget hops.

    These are currently drying in my living room under the ceiling fan.  The temperature and humidity is down this year.  Last year they dried while we still had the air conditioning running.  This September here in Minnesota is below average (have not even hit 80 degrees this month – must be global warming).

    Nugget hop cones drying

    Nugget Hop Cones Drying

    That’s it for the 2010 hop season.  I may update some posts or come up with some new ideas for the hop garden I may run past y’all (for my southern friends).  2010 was a great year for hops – for me and my Minnesota friends anyway.  I look forward to your comments and ideas.  I hope you all had a great hop harvest yourselves.  If you are not growing beer hops, you should be – it’s easy and they are fun to watch grow.  Prepare your soil now for next year – go back quite a few posts and I explain how I prepared the soil.  My southern hemisphere friends,  you must be coming up on your spring – best of luck to you.


    Categories : Second Year Hops
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