Archive for Third Year Hops
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!
Have my Magnum hops overcome their hops disease or whatever malady they are suffering from? All new growth – the laterals and new leaves are looking healthy. Hopefully the Magnum hop plant will survive and be 100% next year. All of the primary leaves on the hop bines have curled up and died (the dark, crumpled leaves in the picture). The tops of the bines are stunted at 10 feet and only new laterals (branches or side shoots) are climbing higher.
I still have not determined what the issue is or was. I am leaning towards a fungal disease similar to Peach Leaf Curl (thanks Mort) or a boron deficiency. I have ruled out an herbicide (from “herbicide drift” – carried by the wind) as this is the middle of 3 plants and the outside 2 are unaffected. I have not used any herbicides and neither has my neighbor.
The Hop bines seemed to recover after I sprayed them with Bonide Liquid Iron + micro-nutrients – containing: magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc which should cover a few different possible deficiencies. Copper can be an antifungal, but I don’t know if the amount of copper was sufficient to act as an anti-fungal in the 2 applications I sprayed the bines with. Whether it was a coincidence or not I don’t know for sure. The new growth has normal leaves.
As the hop bines appear to be stunted and stuck at 10 feet tall due to whatever malady they experienced, I am not expecting as much of a harvest this year (3rd year should be more than second year hops). Who knows, maybe it will bush out and produce just as many or more. The Magnum is the most compact of my 3 remaining hops – Nugget, Magnum and Cascade. You can see from last year’s pictures (look in the category – Second Year Hops) that it didn’t have 4 foot laterals like the Cascade and Nugget did – maybe 12 to 18 inch laterals.
I just wanted to keep you updated on the possible recovery of the Magnum hops. I hope they have an immune system like humans and develop antibodies so they don’t get hit with this again. I will also amend the soil more with fish emulsion and/or kelp to provide all the nutrients they need. Top dress the soil with compost…
The Cascade and Nugget hops did top out by the end of May as I predicted. Even with the slow start due to the cold spring this year.
I have had healthy/disease free hops until this year. This year my Magnum hops is suffering from some
sort of hop malady (disorder or disease of the plant, especially one that is chronic or deepseated). I have been unable to determine the culprit here. I have researched many books and websites and have not come across any disease whether bacterial, viral, fungal or deficiency or pest that causes these symptoms. One fairly thorough hop disease resource I checked did not have pictures of the symptoms I am seeing.
The symptoms are, crumpled/misshaped leaves and shoot tips. The closest I have come symptom-wise is a boron deficiency. I only found one product that contained any boron in it – it is Bonide Liquid Iron + micronutrients. It contains magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc which should cover a few different possible deficiencies. I had to try something.
I sprayed all three of my plants (lost a Fuggle container hop over the winter) Nugget, Magnum and Cascade. This seemed to help the Magnum somewhat. There are sideshoots (laterals) coming out with what appear to be normal leaves (so far) – only time will tell. The Nugget and Cascade hops have darkened leaves and the leaves are larger than they have been in the past – must have been at least partially deficient in iron or one of the other minerals.
I also added kelp meal to the soil and top-dressed with compost from my composter hoping to address any and all possible deficiencies. It may be too late – It is still growing (10 feet tall) but does not look healthy. I am going to see how things turn out. I may have to dig it up and start with a new hop rhizome next year – hoping there is no pathogen in the soil.
The only thing that has been done out of the ordinary was a hop rhizome trimming this year. That was a good month before any signs of trouble. I did trim back all the shoots except 5 that I am training up the rope about a week prior to any signs of trouble. The Magnum was about 5 feet tall and healthy before the leaves started to crumple (no discoloration of any kind). Whether the rhizome trimming, the hop shoot trimming allowed a virus, bacteria or fungus into the plant, I don’t know. It also has been cold and lots of rain (Black Root Rot?) before this happened. I would need to dig up the crown to check for black root rot or pests possibly eating away at the root stock – I am not at that point yet. There are no visible pests on the bines or leaves, if it is a pest issue, it would be underground with the crown/root stock.
I will keep you all posted and any remote diagnosis from the pictures and history here would be appreciated.