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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Hops Growing > Cut back first hop shoots? Or wait and cut back all but best 3?
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Old 03-16-2011, 06:53 PM   #1
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Default Cut back first hop shoots? Or wait and cut back all but best 3?

I've got three plants that are coming in to their 2nd year, and they're just starting to poke through.

I've read some advice that you should cut back all of your first shoots and wait for the 2nd or even 3rd batch. I've also read that you should just let them all grow and then when they're bigger, cut back all but the strongest 3 or 4.

The second method seems to make more sense to me, but I'm wondering what everyone here does.

Thanks...

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Old 03-16-2011, 09:18 PM   #2
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:45 PM   #3
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Maybe one of the pros will give advice. Last year I decided to trim my second year plants. I thought what do I have to lose. My chinook grew back strong but my other second year plants never recovered.

My experience is I wouldn't do.
I've read one reason pros cut back their plants is so they have uniform growth. Consider how much they have to harvest. Pros try to harvest once.
Homegrowers sometimes get two yeilds if they let early hops grow. Pros do have the time to pull in growth and second growth. It's to cumbersome.
I have no plans to cut back my early growth. If someone wants to change my mind let's discuss it. Last years experience says this is a bad idea for the home grower.

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Old 03-16-2011, 11:55 PM   #4
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Cut back the first round of shoots. Don't let them grow too big before cutting them back. The reason for this is to allow more stored energy for the second round of shoots. once the second round grows choose 3 and then cut anything else back that shoots up. Hope this helps.

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Old 03-16-2011, 11:55 PM   #5
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Last year I decided to trim my second year plants. I thought what do I have to lose. My chinook grew back strong but my other second year plants never recovered.
This is what I'm concerned about as well, given that I only have 2nd year plants. I imagine plants that are older, and have larger energy stores underground, can handle being trimmed back once or twice more.
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Old 03-16-2011, 11:56 PM   #6
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Cut back the first round of shoots. Don't let them grow too big before cutting them back. The reason for this is to allow more stored energy for the second round of shoots. once the second round grows choose 3 and then cut anything else back that shoots up. Hope this helps.
Why are the second round of shoots better? Why not just let ALL the energy go into the first round of shoots?
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:41 AM   #7
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I honestly don't know the science behind it since I am not a biologist. My guess would be that the first shoots put the rhizome in 'grow mode' and whatever energy is gained through photosynthesis from those first shoots is stored in the root making the root bigger to support the shoots that you cut off. The root doesn't know that those original shoots are cut off so it supplies more nutrients to the next shoots that grow. I may be completely full of crap but that growing process is the simplified version that i have been told for years. My degree is in history so science is not my thing. Maybe we need one of those fancy hop farmers to chime in.

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Old 03-17-2011, 10:20 PM   #8
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If your trying to go organic your putting the crown at risk by pruning early. Downy and powdery mildew are a pain to get rid of once the spores take hold of your plant. And if you dont know what to look for you'll end up having to destroy the plant to reduce the spread to other crowns. And your at the greatest risk in early spring when theres still a lot of moisture. Your not going to effect your yield on year two by cutting the first shoots. Just wait tell all of them come up them pick the largest ones and try and train 2-3 per string. This should be a good read for you http://www.crannogales.com/HopsManual.pdf, if growth stunts go get UAN 32 fertilizer from your local irrigation store and use as directed. Hops love nitrogen!!

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Old 03-19-2011, 06:04 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by PurpleJeepXJ View Post
I honestly don't know the science behind it since I am not a biologist. My guess would be that the first shoots put the rhizome in 'grow mode' and whatever energy is gained through photosynthesis from those first shoots is stored in the root making the root bigger to support the shoots that you cut off. The root doesn't know that those original shoots are cut off so it supplies more nutrients to the next shoots that grow. I may be completely full of crap but that growing process is the simplified version that i have been told for years. My degree is in history so science is not my thing. Maybe we need one of those fancy hop farmers to chime in.
Friend, please save us all the misdirection and quit offering advice based on a 'guess'. Honestly, that entire post was nonsense unless you can back it up by fact. No offense intended; I want answers as much as you. If anyone has any credible reasons for pruning the first bines chime in. Otherwise, it sounds like unnecessary nannyism, such as watering a plant growing in a swamp.
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:59 AM   #10
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I tend to agree, I've been growing vegetables for awhile now and key to growing good vegetables is understanding the biology behind why they produce well or just good enough (or terrible in some cases). Vegetables are far higher demand than hops, and my bible for growing vegetables is a book that explains the biology, chemistry and variables behind the process, adapted to my climate.

I guess I'm kind of spoiled cuz I hope to find the same information for why people practice cutting back the first hop shoots. There must be a reason, and it's possibly a really good reason, but I want to know what that reason is.

Even better if that answer is given based on climate, because I think the answer may vary depending on what part of the US you're growing hops in.

Can anyone explain the reason? Or do people just do this because other people tell them to?

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