Finally, Hop harvest time! My Cascade hops and Magnum hops were ready to harvest at the same time. My Nugget hops are still on the bine. Here is 1.8 pounds of wet harvested Cascade hops drying on a screen in my living room under a ceiling fan (air conditioned – low humidity). My wife was so happy to have the hops in our living room – ok, I made that part up, but I have priorities (won that battle!). They are out of the living room now, donated to friend who has far surpassed my homebrewing abilities (I get some excellent ales in return!)
The Magnum hops I dried in a couple of paper bags (single layer under the ceiling fan also). The Magnum hops were exactly 1 pound wet. When I say wet, they have actually dried quite a bit on the bine.
Not sure if you can see the yellow lupulin in this picture but it is plentiful. For a bittering hop, they are more aromatic than the Cascade – at least freshly picked off the bine. I am sure the aromatic quality of the Cascade will come out in a late boil and dry hopping. Here is a cross section of a Magnum hop cone (left) and a Cascade hop cone (right). The yellow lupulin does not show in this web compressed picture as well as I wished. I may set up a separate picture site to do it justice. The yellow lupulin follows the strig (stem) down the center of the hop cone.
The harvesting went well. I had to use a ladder to cut the lateral shoots that wrapped around the rope used to let down the bines (pulley setup) but my ladder time was minimal. I let the bines down on to a tarp and picked the hop cones off the bines while standing up – much easier on my back. When I was done harvesting, I raised the bines up again and will let them go till they freeze, allowing them to store energy for the root stock for next years growth (these are first year hops).
The tarp worked great, I did not lose a single hop cone. I will definitely use a similar hop trellis system next year with a few improvements. Next years hop harvest will be much greater with established hop plants. I anticipate double the beer hop cone harvest with an earlier start and more robust hop root stocks rather than just planted hop rhizomes. The re-hoisted bines are loading up the hop crowns with energy for next years beer hops.
Pretty simple huh? Why aren’t you growing your own hops? Try it you’ll like it.
Start planning now for next year’s hops. Select your spot, sunny southern exposure is best but an eastern or western unobstructed (no trees blocking sunshine) will work. Make sure you have vertical space, more the better. Start thinking about how you will rig the bines – trellis, ropes secured to a pole or tall structure… You have until spring to figure it out. If nothing else Google it – a great source of ideas.
Prepare the soil now. Dig down at least a foot and at least 2 foot diameter. Make the soil well drained and mix organic materials with the soil – leaves, grass, compost, composted manure, green sand… HOP ON!
Hop cones are forming from the hop burrs nicely. It looks like it will be a staggered hop harvest which is ok by me. The Cascade hops are the most mature and abundant followed by the Magnum and the Nugget hops are still burrs.
From spiney hop burrs to hop cones, this is what it is all about. These hops are loving the sunshine and thriving. I can’t wait to see what they will do next year!
I am definately going to use a different hop trellis system next year. The hop bines are not producing lateral shoots and cones where they are wrapped around the hose hangers. It was worth a try but not producing any additional hops cones.
I will be doing more research this fall and winter for hop rigging / hop trellis ideas. Trying to figure out an easy way to spiral the ropes and provide additional hops bine length for my limited vertical area I have along side of my garage.
A hop garden is mesmerizing to watch grow. Each day there is new growth and never a boring watch. You will find yourself checking them every day, it is that addicting. Although these hops bines have topped out their trellises, they are now spreading lateral shoots out from the hop bines and growing wider. I call these guys the 3 amigos – Nugget, Magnum and Cascade.
These hop plants are also starting to flower. It starts with the hop burrs or florets. The burrs or florets are comprised of spiny looking styles. This is when the female hop flowers are receptive to hops pollen. As the hop flower matures the styles will fall off.
The flowers fill in with petals and lupulin glands becoming hop cones. They look like green pine cones. Some hops are round and some hop cones are long depending on the hop variety. Hop Cones are the harvest we are after (unless grown for shade / cover). You can expect from 1/2 to 2 pounds of dried hops per plant (after a couple of years). First year hops expend a lot of energy on establishing the crown or root system.
As you can see here, hops like to go high. The Magnum hop bine is 15 feet tall. The cascade and Nugget bines are over 20 feet tall. You can’t see it in the above photo but there are hop bines looped around hose hangers (an experiment in bine height with limited vertical real estate – see some other posts on this blog and you will see it).
Start planning your hop garden now for next year. Select a site, work the soil – dig at least a foot down and 2 feet in diameter. Amend the soil with compost and other organic material – grass, leaves… make sure it is mostly soil and organic material is well mixed with the soil. Figure how you will rig the hop bines (to a pole, a deck, up the side of a building… you have til next spring to actually worry about it). Start reading up on growing hops and you will be well on your way to a successful hop garden.