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Old 01-21-2008, 03:47 PM   #1
SteveM
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Default Hop Growing in Pennsylvania

Well with $12 worth of hops in my current five gallon batch (now boiling), I am looking at growing my own. There is an extensive thread about this but in looking it over, I did not see anything about middle-Atlantic states and what hops might prosper there.

It seems like they do best in cooler climates like New England and the Pacific Northwest. All the readings I've done points to this and, well, that's where the commercial ones mostly come from.

I've had beers made by people who grew their own and frankly they were brutal. It's possible, of course, that they had poor growing and handling techniques and]or inappropriate conditions, and in theory at least I can avoid these (I have a great spot, sunny and well drained, and with all the information around, there seems to be no excuse for poor technique).

But I am wondering if any varieties are known to grow better in warmer areas like Pennsylvania. Has anyone had any success in growing hops in Pennsylvania? If so, do the varieties matter? I was thinking of trying for one flavor and one aroma hop.

Your thoughts and comments are invited! Thanks!

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Old 01-21-2008, 04:16 PM   #2
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(Western PA) I really don't know anything about growing them but!! A block from where I live in the community center playground there is a 50' section of cyclone fencing that is full of hop vines and hops. I have no idea how they got there or what kind they are. I would love to find out.

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Old 01-21-2008, 04:27 PM   #3
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I am in western PA, between Pittsburgh and Erie. No experience with hop growing here....yet! This year, I am definitely going for it. Have a great spot, fencing to grow on, etc. From what I have read, the hops should do fine around here. And probably in your part of PA, as well.

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Old 01-21-2008, 05:15 PM   #4
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The biggest concern with East coast hop gowing is too much humidty and water - sort of. Hops are prone to a number of diseases that need high humidity and/or plenty of rain to gain a foothold. It is my understanding that much of the Western hop farms are irrigated so the farmer has great control of the conditions that promote disease. We here are the East coast don't have that luxury.

When planting your hops you want a location that provides as much sunshine as possible and also has good air movement. After a rain, you want your plants to dry out as quickly as possible. Stagnant, humid air leads to disease. Another thing you can do is to trim up the bottom 3 ft of the plants, removing a bunch of extra leaves to promote good air movement around the base of the plant.

I had great plants this year, but with that hot dry spell we had in August, my hop cones went from mature to brown toast within a week when I didn't have time to do any harvesting

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Old 01-21-2008, 05:23 PM   #5
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Let's say 100F+ is not my idea of cool. But, one thing we don't have here in the summer is rain. Concentrate on the early harvest hops with high fungal resistance. Fuggle & NB are possibilities. http://www.freshops.com/usda_hop_desc2.html

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Old 01-22-2008, 03:04 PM   #6
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I had luck in DE with my Liberty and Goldings plants. They aren't even supposed to do that well in this area, but the first year they grew to about 12ft high, but hardly any cones. The second year we were selling the house and kept them trimmed down, but they were growing like crazy! I used a combination of manure mixed in the soil, and miracle grow the first year. I hear miracle grow can impair their "taste", but I figured the first year I wouldn't be harvesting and I was trying to establish a good root base.

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Old 01-22-2008, 05:02 PM   #7
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I had good results from cascade and nugget last year on second year plants. My hallertau and willamette have yet to produce annything worthwhile. This year I'm putting in more cascades, fuggles, kent goldings and sterling.

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Old 01-22-2008, 05:19 PM   #8
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My neighbor grows hops, and they seem to do very well in SE PA. I see wild hops everywhere and the cultivated ones are very prolific. I'm told that we don't get quite the AA content of the Pacific NW, but the hops smelled O.K.

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Old 01-22-2008, 08:58 PM   #9
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i grew hops in harrisburg. i did have issues with mold and bugs, but a little neem oil did the trick.

pm me with any specific questions about growing

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Old 01-22-2008, 09:25 PM   #10
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Thanks all! Great info and very encouraging.

My LHBS guy advises that my choices of types might be somewhat limited, but if I can get my hands on some Cascade rhizomes and get them to grow, that would be great. Amarillo would really be my first choice - I will ask him about both of those.

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