Hops Boron DeficiencyBy
It was a hops boron deficiency that was responsible for the hop malady of the 2 previous posts. It was the most likely suspect according to my research. Thanks to a couple of folks better educated on the subject than me, we have confirmed this was the problem – Thanks Eric and Robert! I still have to check the ph of the soil – I have not checked it since before I planted the hop rhizomes. Not certain how good my $20+ ph meter actually is/was – I have retired it. The soil ph will affect all nutrient and trace mineral absorption so I will check this soon.
Previous years I gave the hop bines a couple of sprayings with Miracle-Gro and that may have hid the boron deficiency of the soil. This year we have had a lot of rain and that could have leached boron and other nutrients out of the soil in contact with the root stock of the hop plants. This year I did not use any fertilizer of any kind other than top dressing the soil with compost. At least until after the “hop malady” had already occurred.
I did a lot of research but was not certain of the cause – whether disease, pest or deficiency. I had pretty much ruled out pests by visual inspection of the bines and leaves and the symptoms of curled leaves with no discoloration. Other than possible pests underground. That left disease and deficiency. The number of possible hop diseases – bacterial, viral, fungal… was overwhelming – some easily discarded, others similar to what I was seeing. The deficiencies were less but still amazing what a macro or micro-nutrient deficiency could do.
Thanks to some good input (comments) to my posts, I got some good advice. That’s the whole purpose here is to share and gain knowledge. By the way, if you have a question, use the comment to ask so everyone can benefit from the question and answer (if I have one) – others can also chime in with answers. Some folks are asking through the “Contact us” email form. I do answer these but if you have the question, chances are someone else does also. BTW – here is a great Growing Hops Resource that came from a commentor – Robert – thanks again!
The way the problem showed itself was, everything was going fine until the
bines of my Magnum hops hit 8 – 10 feet – then the leaves started to curl up and the tips of the bines seemed to die off. Unfortunately by the time I was “thinking” it could be a boron deficiency and actually finding a product with boron in it (I was unaware liquid Miracle-Gro had boron in it – sitting in my garage the whole time – DOH), severe damage was done. I thought I lost the hop plant. I sprayed all of my surviving plants (lost a Fuggle container hop plant this winter) with Bonide Liquid Iron and micronutrients to address a boron deficiency and possible other mineral deficiencies. It worked – I saved the Magnum hops!
The hop plant is stunted at 10 feet (a couple of laterals are climbing a bit higher). All of the leaves that were crumpled when I sprayed the bines are now dead. All the new growth (laterals) are healthy. I am likely to have a smaller Magnum hop harvest this year, but I expect a full harvest next year (will be year 4). Another thing I noticed is the Nugget and Cascade hops I also sprayed – some of the leaves are friggen huge! some 10 inches across! Apparently there has always been a deficiency (at least one – most likely more).
I try to stay as organic as possible, but I am using Liquid Miracle-Gro from here on (I am still trying to verify the boron in it – I will use the Bonide product too). I do not spray anything once hop burrs start to appear – I don’t want any “extras” in my hop cones After this all transpired, I am also incorporating kelp fertilizer – the ocean has every mineral there is and I figure adding a little bit of every mineral and trace mineral couldn’t hurt. There’s my update. My previous 2 posts were leaning more and more towards a boron deficiency and since the boron brought my near dead Magnum hop back to life – I am a believer!