The June hops update as well as a couple intermediate updates is late as I have been busy this this year. Anyway, so far not a stellar year as we had a long winter, late spring and colder than normal temperatures. The sprouts were buried in snow a couple times – 8 inches in one snowfall! This is year 6 and the Magnum seems to be the most prolific of the 3. The Cascade is falling behind as the fullest bines as in the first few years.
In addition to the cold temps, we are having record rainfalls last month and this month - 7 inches of rain in the last 5 days! All this rain, colder than normal temperatures and cloudy days are holding the hops back. They did make my minimum benchmark of topping their ropes by June 1st (by 2 days), so plenty of time to catch up and fill out like they should. The center peak is 15 feet tall and the 2 side ropes top out at 13 feet. They actually topped out May 30th.
After all this rain, I will have to top dress the soil with compost and maybe some fish emulsion to replenish the nutrients in the soil that are being leeched out from all the rain. See Hops Boron Deficiency for my previous experience from deficient soil – the Magnum plant almost died from it.
I also shot a video I will add to this post later. This blogging takes time (especially when you make a major edit and FORGET TO SAVE your work!). I wasted a good hour on that one F up alone. Anyway, enough whining and I will get the video edited and posted this weekend I hope. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know how your hops are doing.
The hop sprouts have sprung. We have a later start this year. Six days ago we had 8 inches of snow, thankfully it didn’t stick around long. This has been a winter from hell for us – Minnesota. It has been colder and snowier than normal. I was starting to wonder if it would ever warm up. We had our first 70 degree day in six months yesterday. Starting this Sunday, it looks like another week of high 40′s to low 50 degree temps. There is still hope for a summer here.
This is hops growing season number 6. I have had a few challenges over the years from “abnormal” weather to a boron deficiency that almost killed my Magnum hop plant (2 years in a row). Luckily, the second occurrence, I knew what it was and treated it before it damaged the bines too bad. I had found a spray with boron in it to treat the condition. I couldn’t find any 20 Mule Team Borax – I have been told that is a good source of boron also.
These sprouts are few and small. Shortly there will be several dozen per hop crown and I will have to thin them out to 3 to 5 per rope. You can eat the sprouts, they are kind of like asparagus – try it, I have. You can eat the sprouts, make a calming tea from the cones or a relaxing hop pillow, a hop wreath and of course – make beer and ale! What a wonderful plant! Hops make a great cover for gazebos, arbors, privacy fence over 20 feet tall if you let them.
Eighteen to 20 feet is optimal for most varieties, but they will take what you give them. It is best to harvest them from the ground so have a plan as to how you will do that. Harvesting on a ladder is dangerous and near impossible. Either cut them down and harvest or use a pulley system like I do. I have also used hooks and eyelet screws to thread ropes from the ground to a high point on my house or garage and back towards the ground to tie off (tie cleats work good). Here is how I rig hop bines. If you are already growing hops, let me know how they are doing. Hop on!
Growing hops in Minnesota works well with our climate. I have put together a few resources for folks in our state (good for many similar climates). This info should be helpful for anyone considering or currently #growinghops , if you reside in Minnesota or not. Not much else to write about in January – today we are supposed to have a blizzard. Tomorrow it is supposed to be colder than 20 below zero fahrenheit with a high temp of 12 below zero! Not much hop action at these temps.
Some hop rhizome vendors (and hop plant vendors) are already taking orders for this season. Obviously here we can’t do any ground preparation this time of year but we can start planning what varieties of hops to plant. It is a good time to start planning support structures for our hop bines. Eighteen to twenty feet is an optimum height, but they will take what you give them. My pulley system only has 13 feet and 15 feet but they provide plenty of hop cones for my needs. There are many rigging systems and many creative ways to rig hop bines – Poles, sides of buildings and decks… (southern exposure is best, but east or west will work – (not northern exposure)). Get creative, my setup only cost me about $20 for pulleys, screw hooks, wooden stakes, rope and tie cleats by using the south side of my garage!
I hope these resources help to get you involved and gives you ideas on growing hops for yourself or even commercially.