As you can see in this photo, I occasionally have laterals that span the up rope to the lowering rope – same rope, just opposite sections of rope either side of the pulley up top. I will probably cut the branches as it prevents me from lowering the hops (I hate to do it but it makes life easier when it comes to harvest). The bines on the lowering rope get caught in the pulley and seize the lowering action.
We have had a few days of sun and the hops have all topped out and are starting to fill out – sending out laterals (branches). As usual, the Nugget hops topped out first followed by the Magnum hop bines and the Cascades are always about a week behind. The Cascade do not get as much direct sun due to the shadow from my neighbors tree in the front yard.
The next 5 days or so we are supposed to have rain (little sun).
As usual, I had to knock down a honey comb in the peak of the garage. I do it while the honey comb is small so they have a chance to move it elsewhere. Every year they try and build a bee hive in the peak. I prefer not to deal with them if I need to get on a ladder to cut laterals that span the up rope and the downward rope preventing me from lowering the hop bines for harvest. I am not a fan of bee stings.
I stripped the bottom 3 feet of leaves from the bines to allow better airflow and help prevent soil born diseases from affecting the hops. When rain splashes up on the lower leaves, it can spread certain diseases from the soil. Mildews, molds, certain bacterial and viral diseases. It is good practice to strip the lower leaves for this reason (same with tomatoes and other plants).
I have never had a soil borne disease affect my hops by doing this (HINT).
If you notice the white powder on the ground, that is Azomite, a mineral product. I top dressed the soil with my homemade compost then sprinkled Azomite on top of the compost. Azomite has almost every mineral there is so you can almost ensure you will have no mineral deficiencies. I also use kelp for the same reason except I ran out and need to order more.
The compost is “living soil” with all kinds of beneficial bacteria that helps break down the nutrients for plant growth. I am about to water it before it dries out to keep the decomposition of the nutrients active. All plants thrive by using compost! I have a large compost bin and a compost tumbler to accelerate the composting process. I make compost from spring to fall – to cold in Minnesota winter for making compost.
As you can see, the Nugget hops want more than the 13 feet of height I have (15 feet for the Magnum at the peak). 18 to 20 feet is optimal, but give them what you got – that’s all you can do. I generally average over a kilo (2.2 pounds) of hop cones per rope/plant.
That’s it for now. Let us know how your #hops are doing.
May 15th, the day we are supposed to be able to plant our gardens.
Here in zone 4, it is supposedly frost free until fall. I lost 8 tomato plants, 6 cucumber plants, 4 bean plants… Sucks. At least my hops can handle it (and have survived many frosts since they broke ground this year).
It has been well below average temps for a week now. Despite that, the Nugget hop bines reached the top of their rope – 13 feet. The Magnum are less than a foot from top of their rope – 15 feet. The Cascade are lagging behind at 9 feet tall – 4 feet to go before they top out.
Just waiting on some warm sunny days and these guys will fill out. It was 50 degrees when I took this picture. We have been averaging well below normal temps.
We have another week of below average temps according to my weather app. Summer will come sometime I hope. Anyway the hops are healthy and once we get some decent weather they should bush out nicely. Hoping for a good hop year. Let us know how your hops are doing.
About to give them some natural fertilizer and minerals to get them flourishing.
As of April 29th 2016 the hops are (left to Right) – Nugget 7 feet, Magnum 7 Feet and Cascade 5 feet tall. It has been cloudy, cold and rainy for the last 6 days other than today. Today started out at 33 degrees fahrenheit (just above freezing) but reached 60 degrees for a high. They grew about 2 feet over the last week. They would have grown double that if we had sunny weather.
These bines should top their ropes in about 2 weeks. We will see what the weather brings. This is year 8 for these hops (and the rope they climb). It is about time to give them some fertilizer to help them grow. I stay organic and use kelp, fish emulsion and Azomite (minerals). I will also top dress the soil with compost and may feed them some compost tea. That should get them rocking.