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Old 09-03-2010, 12:56 AM   #1
kinnasst
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Default Any Tips for Increasing Cone Production?

This year, I finally figured out what a mature hop cone looks and feels like! Yeah me! However, my total hop yield is going to be very low. 4 oz for a 3rd year Cascade plant. Needless to say, I want to improve on this for next year, especially since I've added a couple more plants.

I live in western PA, where the soil has a lot of clay. My hop mounds have been enriched with compost and manure, and the drainage seems pretty good. The location gets about 8-10 hours per day during the summer.

I'll admit to being inconsistent with watering this year, but the plants seemed to be growing well, so I wasn't too concerned.

Does anyone have any experience they can share as far as increasing cone production?



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Old 09-03-2010, 01:20 AM   #2
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I haven't harvested my 2nd year Cascades yet, but I'm most likely going to wind up with well over a pound of dried hops this year - going by my 2nd year Saaz plant, which gave me 15.5 oz. My 2nd year Hallertauer only gave me 1.2 oz, and the Cascade and 2nd year Chinook each have much more than both of those two combined.

How high do you let them grow? Mine grow to about 15 ft., then they hang down until they can reach themselves, and start climbing again. I think I might top crop them next year to see if I can get them to fill out lower, since there's basically a big ball of hops at the top.

Also, they like a lot of water. Do what I do and set up a timer and water them every day for about an hour.



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Old 09-03-2010, 12:45 PM   #3
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The trellis is about 10 feet tall fom the ground. So I end up with similar self-climbing themselves behavior that you're describing.

Frequent, consistent watering? I'll improve on that next year. Do you use any miracle grow or anything like that? I've just been feeding it compost and cow manure.

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Old 09-03-2010, 01:36 PM   #4
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First, get them to grow 15 to 20 feet. Ours grow 16 feet and 90% of their production is in the last 6 feet. You can go higher and get even more, but now you need to find a way of getting to them.

Second, compost and cow manure can only take you so far. They are nice organic sources, but it takes time for the soil microbes to get it into a usable form. In most cases, that is past the time you really need it, so that is nothing more than food for next year. You may want to consider some kind of man made fertilizer to put on early in the year.

Water, water, water. They need a bunch.

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Old 09-04-2010, 12:22 AM   #5
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Thanks!

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Old 09-04-2010, 01:26 AM   #6
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I wish I could go higher, but as GVH said, getting them down would be a problem. I tried stringing the trellis in a way that I could just lower them down, but once they start hanging over the top, it's hard to keep them from wrapping around everything in sight.

As for the fertilizer, I don't use any. I have pretty decent soil, and I mulch everything from the garden back into the soil. I also put my spent grains from my winter brews directly into the garden. In the spring, I till everything under, and spread some of the garden soil onto my hop beds. This is my second year for my hops, and they seemed to be happy this year.

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Old 09-04-2010, 03:25 AM   #7
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You'll have to do more research on this or I'll have to talk to my horticulturist partners (I'm just the engineer), but as I understand it simply throwing compost on the hops doesn't do much for you. The nitrogen there is in a form that is not usable to the plant. It has to wait until microbes in the soil can break it down. By that time it is mid summer and any extra nitrogen is no longer useful to you for cone production. They need available nitrogen before the end of June. Otherwise you end up with tall and healthy looking plants that have no cones.

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Old 09-04-2010, 10:54 AM   #8
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Tall, healthy looking plants with very few cones is what I've got. Looks like I've got some research to do.



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