So far this growing season we are behind the norm on temperatures and sunshine. I can’t replace or
supplement the sunshine so I have been focusing on nutrients. I try to stay as organic as possible – my only intentional “non-organic” nutrient is a couple of Miracle-Gro foliar feedings (sprayed on the leaves rather than the soil). Foliar feeding gets the nutrient into the plant much faster than through the soil.
If you have read my posts from 2 – 3 years back, you know I did have a boron deficiency that almost killed my Magnum hops, 2 years in a row. There are different ways to treat or prevent this. Miracle-Gro has macro and micro nutrients including boron, iron, magnesium and zinc. There are some other foliar treatments that contain Boron. Plants require many micro-nutrients and it is best to them available for the entire season, not just when you notice the deficiency symptoms.
I top dress the soil with compost I make from leaves and grass. I have also been top dressing and foliar feeding with Azomite, kelp and fish emulsion. That pretty much covers any and every mineral required for health and growth be it macro-nutrient, micronutrient or required trace element. I also will treat the soil with compost tea and soil inoculants (beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal mushroom mycelium).
Anyway, despite the less than optimum growing conditions so far this year, the supplementation seems to be working. Let me know how your hops are doing this year.
Due to lack of sunshine, my original prediction of May 15th as the day the hops would top out was actually May 19th. The Nugget hops topped out (13 ft) by the 15th, the Magnum (15 ft) and Cascade bines (13ft) came later. It has been colder than average (AGAIN), sure could use some of that global warming they keep blabbing about. Just hoping for a “normal” or a warmer than normal summer for a change (it has been many years).
Last night I painted the boards that form the peak that you see. As usual, I had to knock down a wasp honeycomb and wasps that was the start of a bee hive. I did it up on the ladder with the paint scraper, my head about 2 feet away. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but I knock these down probably a dozen times a year before they become full fledged hives. They complicate harvesting when you have the thought you could be stung at any time.
The hops all look healthy. I have supplemented the soil with a top dressing of compost I make, Azomite (mineral supplement), fish emulsion/kelp fertilizer and 2 foliar feedings of Miracle Gro. They should be good for the rest of the growing season unless we get some massive rainfalls that leach out the soil nutrients (so far we are below normal rainfalls). I have watered the hops 3 times so far this year – they are well established and don’t require the almost daily watering when you first plant them.
Saturday May 9th we had a sunny warm day. I checked on the hops in the morning and later in the day, they grew about 12 inches! I did not get up on a ladder with a tape measure to measure them. I used the usual estimate from the ground by counting siding boards – 12 inches each. The tops of the bines were an additional board high since I scanned them in the morning!
So far the only fertilizing I have done is sprinkle Azomite around each hop crown / root stock and foiliar feed and water the Azomite into the ground with a fish emulsion and kelp fertilizer in water. Both are organic and apparently the hops responded very well according to their growth.
These bines will easily top out by mid month, May 15th even though it is supposed to be cloudy and some rain the next 5 days. The Magnum are currently 11 feet tall with 4 feet to the top to go. The Nugget are also 11 feet tall with 2 feet to go to top out. The Cascade hops are lagging at 8 feet tall and 5 feet to reach the top of their rope. If any of the 3 varieties do not top out by the 15th, it will be the Cascade hops.
Left to right are Nugget, Magnum and Cascade hop bines. I will probably hit them with Miracle Gro once they top out(the one time I stray from pure organic fertilizers). I will spread some more Azomite on the ground after a few hard rains and cover it with compost.
I will try to post in a couple weeks after the hop bines have topped out and they start sending out lateral growth.