3rd Year Hops Mid-August Update



    Recovered Magnum hops following a boron deficiency.

    Recovered Magnum

    3rd year hops mid-August update.  This has been a challenging year for growing hops here in Minnesota (and probably most places).  It started out with a cold spring, followed by a hot and humid summer and my brush with a boron deficiency.

    As you can see, the Magnum hops shown to the left have recovered nicely.  While the hop bines were stunted at 10 feet, some laterals decided to climb 4 feet higher.  If you haven’t seen how bad off the Magnum hops were, go back a few posts or just click here –> Hops Boron Deficiency.  They were just about dead.  I am damn lucky I was able to revive them with a boron solution (after I finally determined thats what the problem was).

    The Cascade and Magnum have a few small hop cones and are loaded with hop burrs.  Same as the last 2 years, the Nugget are about 2 weeks behind the other 2 with burrs just starting.  Unfortunately, it is hard to get a decent detailed picture posted without slowing down my blog.  I will make it a point to get some close ups closer to harvest (and look into a beefier hosting solution – what do you expect for $8 a month – I host many other sites too).  

    No problems with deer.  Rabbits munched a couple of hop sprouts when they were just starting out, but I had dozens of sprouts per plant so not an issue.  I noticed quite a few Japanese beetles this year in my tomato garden.  I have not seen any on my hops.  Something has muched on some of the leaves but I haven’t seen who the culprit is yet.  I am not worried as 90% of the leaves are untouched.  I have learned to share a little in my organic gardening ways. 

    I tried something new and trained 5 or 6 bines per rope (I usually do 3 hop bines per rope).  We will see what kind of harvest I get this year.  Too many variables to really compare harvest amounts.  Being third year hops, they should be near peak output.  3rd year hops, weather, deficiency issue, 5 -6 bines per rope – it will be hard to compare to last year’s harvest.  We’ll see what happens. 

    With all the rain (above average) and humidity, I am surprised powdery

    Nugget, Magnum and Cascade hop bines.

    Nugget Magnum Cascade

    mildew hasn’t hit.  I see it or a similar disease on the leaves of my Lilac bushes, affecting my cucumbers and tomatoes.  I have slime mold oozing from the ground around my tomatoes.  I guess I have been lucky as far as my hops go.  Let’s hope I don’t have any more challenges with the hops between now and harvest time.

    I hope you all are having a good hop year.  I would like to hear from you how things are going with your hops.  Any “challenges” or “opportunities” to deal with this year?  Any tips or tricks that would help this audience out?  Make a comment – link is right below the post title “3rd Year Hops Mid-August” (don’t use the “Contact Us” form as only I see those). 

    Categories : Third Year Hops


    1. Timothy,
      Congrats on your hops. You don’t want to spray any chemical while there are hop cones or burrs on the bines. I try to stay as organic as possible and don’t use any pesticides(nasty health effects). Pre-hop cone you can spray Japanese beetles off with water. Spraying regularly can up the chances of powdery mildew and other mildews so spraying is not without risk. A soapy water spray may work on Japanese beetles, it works on aphids and spider mites. I am going to do some research on managing Japanese beetles before next spring as the subject keeps coming up and they are in my tomato garden. I will check into beneficial insects and organic sprays to see what works.

    2. Timothy Brand says:

      Hey my Hops have finally appeared after three years. My Hops are small but fragrant and seem dry already but are slightly tacky. I picked one off and rubbed it between my hands and it did emit a pleasant hop smell. I am going to harvest this week. Didn’t get a great harvest as the Japanese beetles enjoyed them as well. Any suggestions for a spray that is safe and wont end up in my brew.

    3. Congrats on your harvest! Light and fluffy and lupulin showing (yellow pollen like stuff) are good signs of ready to harvest. The squeeze test works well too – easily squeezes almost flat, feels “papery” to the touch and bounces back to near the original size. The best method for storing hops is to vacuum seal the hops, then store in the freezer. Minimum, have them in zip-lock bags with the excess air squeezed out and stored in a freezer. They will keep up to a year this way. Here in the Minneapolis, MN area – my hops are not yet ready, should be within 2 weeks.

    4. Infamousginger says:

      I just harvested my 6 Hops vines. This is my first year, so I am learning. I am not sure if they were ready, yet. I live in Midland, Michigan. It is labor Day weekend and I am leaving on a trip in few days. I am worried it will frost while I am gone and will lose the whole crop. So, ready or not, they are harvested. They were still light green in color. zThey were light and fluffy and the golden oil parts were quite visible in the scales of the cone. My hands got all tacky picking them. I have them in ziplock bags in the refrigerator now. I think i will wrap the bags in foil and freeze them. Am I on the right track?

    5. Wade,
      Is the rope made of cotton? It looks like the bine hairs may have rubbed off fibers from your rope. Can’t quite tell from the picture. What do you think?

      Pest Disease or Fibers?

    6. Wade says:

      I just sent the picture to your email address.

      It is not on the leaves, just the bines. I didn’t touch it to feel the consistency, or to see if it wipes off easily. There are no sprinklers hitting them; they are drip irrigated, in pots. Two pots to be precise, and each pot has two bines climbing up ropes. All 4 bines have this white stuff top to bottom.

      Thanks a lot for your willingness to help!

    7. Wade,
      The white you are talking about, it is just on the bines and not the leaves? Send the pic to or provide a link to an online source it may reside on (PicasaWeb, Flickr…). I have seen the stiff hairs on some bines turn white(not a problem). There are a few mildews that can turn the leaves white and be a problem but not in your dry climate to my knowledge. Do the bines get wet from sprinklers or hoses? Mildew needs humidity or a wet environment to thrive. That’s why the big hop fields are in the arid areas of Washington, Oregon and northern California – on the dry (eastern) side of the mountains.

      Good hop disease and pest resource: see pages 7 & 18 for sure

      Hopefully it is nothing to worry about. Send a pic and or link to the pic and we can see if we can identify what is going on.

    8. Wade says:

      I just stumbled upon this site; wish I had found it earlier. This is my first year growing hops, actually growing anything. I’ve never gardened before, but since I started brewing I have wanted to keep taking small steps back from full extract and growing my own hops was one of those steps.
      I live in Las Vegas, super hot and dry, so I planted Cascade since I heard they are the most likely to do well in this climate. And they were doing well, climbing up ropes to my eaves. This morning I noticed a lot of white on the bines. I can’t tell if it’s something growing on them, or if it is being secreted by the bine itself.
      I’d love to know what that is and how serious. Cones are starting to form and I am hopeful that I will be able to brew just one batch with the first year’s harvest next month.
      Any advice is greatly appreciated. I have a picture if that would help.

    9. Robin
      Sounds like you did pretty well for your first year hops – congrats. Pretty much anything harvested first year is a bonus. Just wait till next year! I think I am going to add some Praying Mantis next year to my hop garden just as insurance against Japanese beetles… Thanks for the complement! I hear you about craving an IPA – my favorite style!

    10. Robin says:

      My first year hop garden did better than I expected. I planted Willamettes (2 rhizomes), Centennials (4 rhizomes) and Cascades (4 rhizomes in garden with an additional 2 in pots). They all had a 12′ high support and everyone reached the top and some continued to grow off on their own. The Willamettes were wonderful and full bines but only yielded me about 0.4 oz wet (0.1 oz dry) but I dried and packaged them anyhow. I just harvested the Cascades (3.5 lbs wet) and Centennials (8.4 oz wet). They are currently in the Oast in the basement drying out. I was amazed at the amount of Cascades I have, way beyond my first year expectations.

      I did experience some pest issues but am trying to stay organic. My first was Japanese Beetle which I went out and flicked into a bucket of soapy water each morning as I found them. The second was small caterpillars that only seemed to be on the Centennials and I didn’t even notice them until I was picking the cones yesterday. I sort of did the same thing you did, the pests didn’t seem to be destroying the plants so I accepted that they were going to eat a few holes in some of the leaves. I did however give the praying mantis I found pep talks and didn’t notice any aphids so I think that part of my “pest control” was successful 🙂

      Since I did smash a few cones as I was harvesting, the hop aroma was quite enjoyable but after the first hour or so, I was really craving an IPA. As always, enjoy reading your blog and the many comments posted by others.

      Robin in Nebraska

    11. Joe,
      You won’t necessarily be able to smell them on the bine – don’t worry, the bitterness and aroma will come out in the boil or dry hopping(aroma only). If they feel damp or cool and resist squeezing, they are not ready. If you can squeeze them almost flat with little resistance and they spring back, they are ready. They should feel papery and light. That is the best test I know. Not all the hop cones will be ready at the same time. Either pick a time the majority are ready and pick them all or do 2 or more harvests. Obviously if you are cutting them down, you have to harvest all at once. I use a pulley system that makes multiple harvests easy.

    12. Joe says:

      Thanks for the tip on the cascade, I’ll have to give that a go next season.

      My galena has a ton of hop cones on it but I’m not sure when I should harvest them. they feel a bit squishy but they don’t have any taste or smell to them.

      -Joe in Buffalo

    13. Thanks Mitch. We will be here when you need us. I just added an archive listing on the bottom of the right sidebar. You can read from the bottom up (oldest post to newest) if you want to get the chronological order down and more easily find every post. I hope this helps folks out.

    14. Mitch says:

      Just wanted to add that I loved reading your blog! I’m living in an apartment now, but I’ve got the information I needed to start growing my own hops as soon as I get my own place. Thanks for the inspiration!

    15. Colin says:

      Thanks for the response. Yes, we do have a dry climate, although the winter wasn’t exactly mild, the weather, mostly rain in March and April was great for the hops.

      I’ll check my hops for feel to see if they’re ready.

      Thanks again.


    16. Colin,
      Glad your hops are doing well. You must have a milder winter than here in Minnesota for an early March start. I see you are near Washington State. I assume you have the same advantages of the Yakima Valley hop growers in Washington – dry.

      As far as harvest, wait till they are paper-like feel and when you squeeze them, they pop back to the same size. Wet hops will be more solid, squeeze less, feel wet and not pop back as much. During harvest it is not unusual to have wet and dry hops on the same bine. You can either wait longer for the majority to dry and harvest or harvest the dry ones and come back later when the younger cones have dried – like I do, but I have a pulley system on my ropes which makes it easy. Thanks for the update. Hope this helps.

    17. Colin says:

      Thanks for the update. I thought the same as you about the Spring, but my hops cam out gangbusters in March, and haven’t stopped. Some are well over 20 feet, and the 3rd year bines are just loaded. We’re in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, and the weather has set everything else behind about 2-3 weeks. My Fuggles are almost ready to harvest, but my Cascade are still quite samll and will need about 3 weeks. The hard part is knowing when to harvest. Do you have any tried and true method?


      Colin in The Okanagan

    18. Joe,
      Cascade are a hardy aromatic hop that grows just about anywhere – almost a must. The pulleys save a lot of ladder time. As you are finding out, keep enough room between hops (and other plants and things they can intermingle with), it will save a lot of headaches later on .

    19. Joe says:

      Thanks for the update, wow, they are doing great!

      My first year galena topped out at 7 feet and my first year hallertau topped out at 4 feet. The galena could have gone much higher, I imagine, but I didn’t give it anything else to grow up on. The laterals have started to co-mingle with my wisteria so I’ll have to do some creative training with the wisteria to keep it in check. Next year I intend to nail 2×4’s to the side of my shed to give the bines more height and use your pulley trick.

      I won’t be surprised if the hallertau don’t survive the winter. I need to think about what other variety/varieties of hops I want to grow next season. I can’t get by on bittering hops alone.

      Thanks again for the update I’m glad to see your magnum recovered so well. Looking forward to some more pics and more info around harvest time.

      Joe in Buffalo

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