Hop Harvest 2010


    Harvest of Cascade hops

    Cascade Hops Harvest

    Hop harvest 2010 – mostly second year hops, with the addition of a first year Fuggle container hop plant (from rhizome).  We harvested Sunday September 5th (Labor Day weekend).  The above picture is half a grocery bag full of Cascade hop cones.  We did not weigh them wet (freshly picked) but I will update the post with the dry weight.  A friend of mine is drying them and going to use them in his home brews.  I donated them to him as he has far surpassed my brewing abilities.

    Hop bines shown in early September, just before harvest.

    Hop Bines Before Harvest

    Above are, left to right: second year Nugget, Magnum and Cascade hops.  I have not harvested the Nugget hops yet, they were not quite ready.  People keep asking when to harvest so here is the general rule:  when they feel papery and squeeze easily and bounce back – they are ready.  If they feel moist and do not squeeze easily, they are not ready.  You will often see some brown edges on the hops when they are ready to pick also.  You may find that not all of the hops seem ready even on the same bine.  Up to you if you leave them for later or pick them all.  I have my bines on pulleys so I hoist them back up and have a second, smaller harvest a week or 2 later.

    Fuggle, Magnum and Cascade hop cones picture.

    Fuggle, Magnum and Cascade Hop Cones

    Above are the three hop cone varieties we picked in a side by side picture.  The Magnum is noticeably lighter in color.  They are hard to distinguish apart as most of the cones are fairly round.  The Cascade pictured above is one of the longer cones, but all 3 varieties are mostly round with some longer than others.  When they are in the bags, they are tough to tell apart.  Each of the 3 hop varieties has it’s own aroma.  Similar, but distinct per variety.  The Fuggle and Cascade hops are aroma varieties and the Magnum is a bittering hop.

    A conjoined hop cone picture

    Conjoined Hop

    Here is a pic of a conjoined hop cone.  I have only seen 2 of these in a couple of years growing hops.

    I will add the Nugget harvest pictures and hopefully all the dried hop weights when I finish harvesting.  First year hops are amazing to watch grow, but second year hops are over the top.  If you are not growing hops, you should be.  Whether for brewing beers and ales, privacy, covering arbors, fences or pergolas, calming teas or sleep pillows – there are many uses for hops (and excuses for growing them).

    Until the next update, grow hops – cheers!

    Categories : Second Year Hops


    1. Mike,
      I do not have any hop farming experience, let alone farming experience – strictly a hobby hop grower. I am pretty sure you are in the perfect area to grow hops (eastern Washington). Obviously a thousand acres would be a huge investment and commitment. I am not certain of the current hop inventory/demand. Check with your local university Ag departments, one commercial hop growing training site I am aware of is . Check them out, see where the market is at today and headed for the near future. There are many varieties of hops and choosing the most in demand varieties that will grow in your climate(which is the majority of varieties) will bring you the best return on investment. What I do know, the first year, you will not have much of a crop. So you have to factor that into your decision if you can ride out a year without much of a crop and substantial infrastructure investment.

    2. mike says:

      How many acres and what kind of equipment would a young farmer need to succesfully grow hops. i live on my family farm and we have around 1000 aces in eastern washington

    3. It is not the preferred method (they like to go vertical) but I know many people have done it. I have never done it myself. It might be a backbreaking harvest. Any hops is better than no hops so see how it works out for you.

    4. Ellen says:

      I have a question. We have 48″ woven wire livestock fencing on our farm. Is it okay to grow hops trained along a fence as opposed to upright, in your experience or opinion? Thanks very much!

    5. Joe from Buffalo,

      You’re welcome. My intent is to help people out by sharing my experiences growing hops. Like everything else, there are many ways to do something – some better than others. If you do container hops, bringing the containers in to less severe temperatures will help. I believe you get a lot of snow in Buffalo – I am not sure how cold it gets there. Bringing them inside would help container hops but in the ground is best for survivability and hop cone production.

      I lower the hop bines to harvest the hop cones then I raise the bines up again so the leaves can capture/gather energy for next year’s growth (stored in the root stock). Once the bines die off, I cut them just above ground level, then cover them under a pile of leaves & grass clippings to insulate the crowns/root stocks.

      Note – using pulleys or an eyelet at the top and enough slack rope to raise and lower the bines makes harvesting ladder-free (you may need to cut laterals that cross over to and wrap around the lowering rope). Plant different varieties at least 5 feet apart and similar varieties 3 feet or so apart.

    6. Joe says:

      Thanks so much for the info! Did you cut the vines down after harvest or do you leave them strung up on the rope? If I do go with a container I would probably bring it in the basement for the winter unless i need to keep the vines intact.

      I have a couple of day lilies growing out of plastic baggies on my kitchen table awaiting their final destination. I think I may use the pots I had set aside for the hops for the day lilies instead and just put the hops in the ground. I have a shed in the backyard with pretty good southern exposure and I can nail some 2x4s to it too for added height/support for the vines.

      Decisions decisions! I’ll certainly be doing more reading on your site, looks like you have some pretty solid info on prepping the soil.

      Thanks again!

    7. The Fuggle hops I grew in a container last year did well for a container hop plant. It easily topped the 15 feet of rope and extended about 4 more feet when the bine could no longer support it vertically without a rope. I got about 6 ounces dried hops off of it – not bad for a first year hop plant.

      It did not survive the winter though. I am in zone 4a here in Minnesota and it can get to 30 below zero (and colder sometimes). I had covered the top of the pot with 4 inches of leaves, then buried it in snow to insulate it. At one point in January I noticed some high winds had blown the snow away from the pot and that is probably what killed it (container exposed to the extreme cold). My hops in the ground survive easily.

      Hops always do better in the ground, especially in extreme cold like where I live. If in the ground is an option – take it. It doesn’t hurt to try growing hops in containers. Just remember that hop plant root stocks become massive – the larger the pot, the better. Hope this helps.

    8. Joe says:


      I see you have done some hops in a container. I am getting ready to plant some rhizomes soon but I’m not sure if I should go with a container or in the ground. How did the container fuggles do? I have 2 very large clay pots but I may let me girlfriend plant her flowers in those and use plastic pots instead since I think they would handle the pressure of the roots growing better than the clay pots?

      What do you think?

      -Joe in Buffalo.

    9. Determining variety is not that easy. They probably are not worth much and if you ever harvested hops, you can not make money off of them unless you have a large scale operation with machinery to strip the hops off the bines. Harvesting hop cones by hand is very time consuming – maybe a pound per hour wet – dries to 20 – 25% of the wet weight.

    10. hoppintoit says:

      Great info and articles here! We recently found out we have wild hops grwoing on our property in Illinois. How do we find out what variety they are? What kind of price we could get for them and the likelyhood of transplanting them from the woods and onto string system?


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