Hop Sprouts 2011

    Young hop sprouts.

    4/3/2011 Albino Magnum Hop Sprouts

    April 3rd I uncovered my hops as they were sprouting when I checked beneath the mulch.  I keep them buried in mulch to delay their sprouting as long as possible.  The reason for that is there are many freezes overnight until mid May in my area (Minnesota) .  The hops seem to ride out most of the freezes – I have not lost them to frost yet.

    They are albino white until they are uncovered for a day or two, then they take on purple/red stem and green leaves while they are small.  My previous post on hop rhizome trimming was a week after this picture was taken.  It has been a cold April here (so much for global warming) – this morning I had ice in my birdbath and the high today hit 40!


    Cascade sprouts 3 weeks afer breaking soil.

    Cascade Hop Sprouts

    Nugget hop sprouts 3 weeks old.

    Nugget Hop Sprouts











    Due to the remnants of the winter that wouldn’t die, these hops haven’t grown much in 3 weeks.  These hop sprouts have survived many frosts in the last 3 weeks.  I am hoping for average temps soon, the average highs are supposed to be in the 60’s – like I said, it peaked at 40 today – sucks.  Some of these bines are big enough to start training up the ropes.

    I have been reading of other peoples hops hitting 10 feet tall already – obviously not around here.  If the past is any indicator, these hop bines will be topped out by the end of the month(May).  I haven’t been lazy about updating this blog, just not much to report on yet.

    I do have one sad thing to report.  My Fuggle container hop plant did not survive the winter.  I do not have a root cellar or insulated garage to move it to for the winter.  I covered it with 4 – 6 inches of leaves and then buried the container in snow (we had a ton of snow this year).  I believe this was enough to insulate it from our 20 – 30 below zero winter temps, but one high wind day it blew the snow away from the container and left it exposed.  My hops in the ground handle it just fine.

    Container hops are not working well for me.  Aside from the Fuggle that froze to death this winter, I lost a Mount Hood to wind (50+ MPH) last summer.  Apparently this corner is not protected from the wind.  I think I am going to stick with my three amigos this year – Cascade, Nugget and Magnum.

    With a few weeks of sun, I should be able to report back that the hop bines have topped out again.  I hope your hops are doing well – if you are not growing hops, you should be.  Hop on!


    Categories : Third Year Hops


    1. Kyle,
      One idea would be to either hang wires or rope from the top wire and stake them near the the crowns or I have seen people hang a pipe laterally just above the ground and then train the bines up the rope or wire. You can also zigzag a rope or wire from the ground up and over your top wire, to the ground (or pipe) and back up and down as many times as you wish. Keep the dissimilar hops ropes or wires a greater distance apart. You may have to train the bines away from the dissimilar hop variety or cut them at the top where they try to cross over. Below is an example (larger scale)

      Commercial Hop Trellis

      Best of luck. I would like to see some pictures now and after you come up with your solution for this year. You can email them to me

    2. Kyle says:

      Thanks for the quick response, very informative.

      Last year I built a 12ft trellis by bolting two 2×4’s to either side on the garden bed and threading thick wire from board-to-board. I then put vertical wires above each sprout and proceeded to create “windows” of varying wires to allow the vines to grab onto. The vines easily filled out the 12×12 fence of wire and oh boy did they mingle. There was no way for me to separate them.

      I cut them (dead prickly vines) all back before this years sprouts and took down the old trellis. I have 4 crowns (2 nugget & 2 cascade) set in pairs with the most space between the 2 pairs. The old trellis was large, but it sagged in from the weight of the vines, which is why I’m making a new one.

      A few weeks ago, I cemented three 4×4’s, one on either side and one in the middle of the two pairs. I still have not put the wire back into the 4×4’s because I am a little stumped on how to set up the wire i.e. the “rope” vines grow up. So, the vines are taking up 10’x4′ area on the ground and growing up anything they can find. So I feel a bit bad about letting them grow laterally.

      Now that you have given some advice on how to prune my hops, I will use my new shears:) I just bought over the weekend to cut them back. Can’t wait.

      If there were a way to post pictures, I would love to share my hops with you to view.


    3. Kyle,
      Generally you pick your longest, healthiest bines and train them up ropes (or whatever type of trellis you have). Usually 3 bines per rope (I am experimenting with 5 hop bines per rope this year). You can have more than 1 rope per hop plant. You usually start with 1 rope per plant, but as the years go on more and more hop sprouts pop up and spread out. By year 3, you can easily have 2 or 3 ropes per hop plant.

      I am not sure if you are using rope, poles or lattice type of trellis but the plant can support more and more bines as the root stock grows. Personally, I produce more hops than I can give away (lot of friends growing hops too). If you have hand harvested hops before, you know it gets old quick. So this year I am experimenting with 5 bines per rope and next year I am going to double my ropes per plant. I am not looking to expand my harvests too much more (maybe if I hire some hop pickers – my time is too valuable).

      I do believe cutting back the excess hop sprouts/bines gives more energy to the “chosen ones”. I just cut to near ground level about 50 bines/sprouts between the three hop plants I have left – Cascade, Nugget and Magnum leaving 5 per plant. There is no absolute answer – see what works for you. Something to watch out for, as you add ropes or additional structure to climb, the bines of dissimilar hops can mingle if they get too close. I had Cascade and Magnum jump rope to rope to rope and intermix (the tops and some laterals). It took 2 of us an extra 45 minutes to separate them – I won’t allow that to happen again.

      I think it is wise to trim the excess bines, but a 2 or more year old hop plant can easily support more than 3 bines – general rule is 3 bines per rope or pole or spread out if on lattice. That’s my thoughts on the subject.

    4. Kyle says:

      I also have third year hops (Cascade & Nugget) and as you know, they are growing like wild fire. I built a new trellis for them a few weeks ago, but I have not put in the horizontal wire yet. My growing friend has told me that I should cut back the hops vines to 3-4 main vines off the crown, but I’m not sure.

      I did no such trimming on year 2 and they grew wild and produced many hops, which are still in the freezer. I do think that they are taking up more space than needed.

      What is your opinion/experience with trimming the live plant?

    5. Robin,
      Just wait til they start growing 4+ inches a day (I have seen up to a foot in 1 day!). I have not heard of any concrete evidence that hops are toxic to dogs (as many plants are), but you hear a lot of mentions of it. I would not think hop cones or hop bines would be very palatable, but just in case, be aware –

    6. Robin says:

      Cool. I put a small net fence up around them for now just in case. I think my dog (he is a pom) likes to lie between the mounds so I suspect he has stepped on one or two shoots as they look more snapped then eaten. They all look very happy in their little hop bed.

    7. Robin,
      I have a ton of rabbits – I will see up to 5 or so at a time in my yard – same with deer. they don’t seem to bother the hops hardly at all (the rest of my garden is a different story). I will have a couple of hop shoots eaten, but the majority of sprouts are untouched. I am guessing whatever is eating them, doesn’t like the taste. Once the hop sprouts have become bines. I have not had anything eat them. That is my experience the last 3 years.

    8. Robin says:

      Do you have any problem with rabbits?

    9. Rich says:

      We just planted our rhizomes (here in west-cent. MN) a few days ago. We’ll be looking forward to more of your posts.

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