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Old 04-23-2010, 02:53 PM   #1
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Default Alpha Acid Control

I'm a first year planter, and will be planting two rhizomes (Cascade and Mt. Hood) when they arrive in a few days. I read that specifically the amount of nitrogen in the soil can help determine the alpha acid, where more nitrogen will speed up growth but lower the %.

Is this true? if so, I would like to have my hops higher in alpha. They ones I ordered said they will be between I think 8-10% for cascade, and 6-8% for the Mt. Hood. So I'd prefer my hops to be on the high side of their potentials.

What would I have to do to ensure good growth without sacrificing my alpha? Or is the first year more or less useless for determining that stuff?

I live in Boston by the way, if that helps, where it dipped to the low 40s last night and had scatted snow flurries last weekend. So my conditions are not yet good to plant the hops.

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Old 04-23-2010, 03:15 PM   #2
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Here's the thing . . . probably the total amount of alpha acids you get won't vary that much. If you use the nitrogen fertilizer, you'll get more growth of green matter (leaves, vines, and your cones may be bigger), but the alpha acids in the lupulin glands will be about the same per cone. So you've got more green matter in each cone because they are bigger, so by weight you've lowered your AA level. But you've got the same amount of AA in each cone, I suspect. And you are going to get more total weight of cones, so it evens out, I think or may even come out in favor of using fertilizer because of the increased number of cones.

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Old 04-23-2010, 03:33 PM   #3
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Potassium is critical to cone formation and growth, not nitrogen. Nitrogen will not have a measurable effect on cone size from what I have read.

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Old 04-23-2010, 04:34 PM   #4
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Plan on the alpha acid being on the low side in 1st year cones regardless. Give them the nitrogen they need to grow so you have a strong root system. That will help you more in the future then trying to push the plant this year.

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Old 04-23-2010, 04:48 PM   #5
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Yeah I figured I wouldn't really get much of anything out of them to begin with the first year. I just wanted to ensure that my hoppies get a good support to yield some tasteyyyy alpha. So I guess just stick with the nutrients they need for good growth this year and not worry so much about the alpha.

I also assume there really isn't a way of testing the alpha unless I bring it somewhere or do some VERY SCIENTIFIC tests?

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Old 04-23-2010, 04:52 PM   #6
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From what I have read it matters little on how much of each nutrient you provide, unless you provide too little, in that the plant has specific uptake rates depending on the plants needs.

since we are a small scale operation it is all too easy to just provide a balanced fert on a regular schedule. the plant will sort it out from there and be all that it can be.

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Old 04-23-2010, 04:56 PM   #7
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I plan on using mine for aroma and dry hopping anyway; that way you don't really have to consider the AA%. (Although I did make a wet-hopped APA last year using only my home-grown hops, and it turned out very well.)

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Old 04-23-2010, 05:59 PM   #8
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plant those puppies right now...snow flurries will not harm a thing!

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