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Old 03-02-2013, 03:40 PM   #1
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Default First Time Grower, OH

Hey guys, I'm going to be growing my first hops this year in north central ohio. I feel like I've done my research on spacing and trellis construction, and I'm off to a good start.

There's still snow on the ground here, so I'll be starting my rhizomes in pots for close to a month before they go into the ground. I'm not expecting any production to speak of this year.

I'm planning to follow the instructions from the Hops Direct videos for planting and training the bines, and there is a lot of good info there. They recommend planting 4 rhizomes, spaced a few inches apart, per hole. In my case, I will have 3 hills this year, with one hole per hill. So, 4 rhizomes per hill. Each hill will get 2 strings to the trellis, so that's 2 rhizomes per string.

After these get established, will those 4 rhizomes constitute a single "crown"? I'm asking because I read that farmers recommend cutting off all but 4 of the strongest shoots per crown and training only those. I'll have the same question in a few years when it's time to divide the crown.

When I plant, I intend to dig out 4' diameter by 2' deep holes, and fill them with compost at the bottom 6" or so and the rest of the way with potting soil or similar loam/sandy mix. I'll then top them with topsoil from the dig. The soil here is clay-heavy, so I think I need to replace most of it with potting soil to get the drainage the crowns will want. My parents planted 3 hills a few miles away that have had 3 seasons to grow now, and they do very poorly. They just planted them in the ground with no prep.

I'll be using a 20' cable trellis with coir yarn, and holding the strings with clips just like the "big boys" do.

Any thoughts or input from experienced growers appreciated!

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Old 03-02-2013, 05:49 PM   #2
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Each one of those rhizomes will turn into a crown of it's own. After the first year each will have developed a decent root system and separating them at this time is your best bet. If you give them another year before trying to separate, they pretty much will have grown into a tangled mess. Here's a couple pictures of what happens over the course of one growing season. Each started off as a pencil thin rhizome a year earlier so plan accordingly.

chinook-3.jpg   chinook-1.jpg  
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cscade View Post
There's still snow on the ground here, so I'll be starting my rhizomes in pots for close to a month before they go into the ground. I'm not expecting any production to speak of this year.
Nope...don't do that. Wait until the ground is thawed enough and put the rhizome straight in. Starting them in pots really doesn't give you a "head start" in anyway. In fact, it can hurt you. When you are transplating them, it will stress the young plant and you may loose a few plus starting them early may result in an early onset of the burring stage. If that happens before side arms develop, you will loose production and canopy. In later years, production is important. For the first year, putting out green leaves to feed the roots is job #1.

Quote:
I'm planning to follow the instructions from the Hops Direct videos for planting and training the bines, and there is a lot of good info there. They recommend planting 4 rhizomes, spaced a few inches apart, per hole. In my case, I will have 3 hills this year, with one hole per hill. So, 4 rhizomes per hill. Each hill will get 2 strings to the trellis, so that's 2 rhizomes per string.
I haven't seen the videos, so I can't really comment on them directly but this is what we do and have all our growers do. 1 rhizome per hill space 3 feet apart. That's it. If there are some that didn't grow, we back fill the next year. If you buy from a quality supplier, you should get 95% or better to grow.

We then drop a single line of twine down and train 3 to 4 bines. For most varities, we haven't seen a significant increase in production from doing the split "V" off the crown.

Don't bother with the "w" clips, unless you like adding metal to the ground. Either shove the twine straight in the crown or set a piece of wire 12" off the ground and tie the twine to that. Then you can all attach your drip irrigation to it.

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When I plant, I intend to dig out 4' diameter by 2' deep holes, and fill them with compost at the bottom 6" or so....

Any thoughts or input from experienced growers appreciated!
That's all good but you may want to amend more than that. As Bob showed, those crowns are going to get BIG. Rhizomes stretching out 6 feet or more, tap roots going down for miles. We like to amend a 4 foot swath of soil centered on where we are dropping in the rhizomes. Of course, do your amendment based on the results of your soil tests.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:22 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, good information. Sounds like I have too many rhizomes on the way, as long as they arrive healthy. If each one will mature to it's own crown, I will need to quadruple my hills and divide next year, which isn't all bad.

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Nope...don't do that. Wait until the ground is thawed enough and put the rhizome straight in.
Fair enough. Do I need to hold off until I'm fairly sure there will be no more frost? How long can they survive out of the ground?

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For the first year, putting out green leaves to feed the roots is job #1.
Based on this, should I trim any shoots year 1 or just let them all grow?

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Don't bother with the "w" clips, unless you like adding metal to the ground. Either shove the twine straight in the crown or set a piece of wire 12" off the ground and tie the twine to that. Then you can all attach your drip irrigation to it.
When you say shove the twine right in the crown, are you putting it into the ground, just sans clip? I have clips and a "gun", but I was feeling like the metal was less than ideal as well.

I won't be doing drip irrigation, everything will be manual. The hills will be nowhere near a water source, so I'm expecting to have to water by can up to once a day in the peak of summer.

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That's all good but you may want to amend more than that. As Bob showed, those crowns are going to get BIG. Rhizomes stretching out 6 feet or more, tap roots going down for miles. We like to amend a 4 foot swath of soil centered on where we are dropping in the rhizomes. Of course, do your amendment based on the results of your soil tests.
How deeply would you amend when breaking ground for the first time?
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:51 PM   #5
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OK...bunch of questions. Let me get what I can.

First, how big of a field are you putting in? How many rhizomes? If you really have a lot of extras, go 2 per hill.

They should come wrapped in a plastic baggy or such with a damp piece of paper towel. You can store them like that or dip them in a slight bleach solution to kill anything growing on them. Then store them back in the fridge. I've heard they can keep up to 45 days, but I haven't tried it myself.

Once they are in the ground, you shouldn't mess with them for at least 3 to 5 years. I wouldn't split the crown, it will effect the plant's production. In 5 years, you will have to cut out more rhizomes.

Yeah, just shove the coir ( or whatever) twine in the ground. I guess its better to have it anchored to something but I don't like the thought of all those clips in the ground. That's part of why we do the low line.

Manual irrigation? Wow, you are in for a good time. These things take a lot of water.


The first year, you will probably only get 3 to 5 bines, so train them all.

I'll ask my partners about amending the soil.

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Old 03-03-2013, 02:34 PM   #6
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I'm doing this on much smaller scale than you're probably thinking - I'm just a back yard grower, literally. My intention is to do a 4 hill test plot this year, and if the initial growth goes well, I'll probably expand that to 12 hills next year.

At that size I think I can get away with manual irrigation. Yes, it will be a lot of work. But I'm expecting that.

Thanks a bunch for all the great input, I'll make sure to keep this thread updated as I actually begin the work.

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Old 03-03-2013, 02:59 PM   #7
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cscade, don't expect to be able to compare your growth this year to what's coming in the following years. Many times, you end up with what you think are 'duds' by the end of your first season because those rhizomes are expending LOTS of energy to establish roots and sometimes show very poor shoot growth. Once those roots are established you may be looking for a place to run and hide as the top growth can be pretty scary and you'll have to start thinking about thinning them out after about 3 years if they like where they're growing. Watering is more critical during the first year due to the fact that they don't have any roots to obtain water on their own. You'll do fine.

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Old 03-09-2013, 03:58 AM   #8
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I am in NW Ohio and I planted a Galena rhizome (late) last year. I ended up with 2 short bines bearing between 1/4 oz. and 1/2oz. of flowers. I amended my soil with about 6lbs. compost. Will add more this spring; I am fortunate to have good soil.

In NW Ohio the average last day of frost is May 10 so I would wait until that date to plant.

In some commercial operations hop plants are not trained the first season. If you want to increase the yield with certain early- mid varieties you can delay training and prune the initial shoots to promote vigor. In Northern Ohio I have heard of better results with earlier varieties.

Like B-Hoppy said, your yield will not reach its potential for 3-4 seasons depending on the variety. Do not be discouraged with poor performance yr. 1.

This is an awesome resource on growing hops in general as well as details regarding some varieties.
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/hop.html

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Old 03-13-2013, 05:02 PM   #9
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I wouldn't be afraid of manual irrigation for a small patch. I'm near Toledo and I've got 4 varieties (ordered 1 rhizome each this will be their 3rd year) and water every morning before work and every evening after sundown during the hottest months. That's plenty to keep them wet. Compost over the root area to keep the moisture in and you might be able to get away with once a day.

I didn't mess with trimming or training for year 1 and got 2-6oz per plant. Year 2 I got 1-3lb per plant (Nugget and Zeus seem to love the hot humid summer in the Great Black Swamp). And all of those were only growing up a 6ft pole and into a fence (I'm hoping to get the trellis up this year....)

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Old 03-14-2013, 02:46 PM   #10
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(Nugget and Zeus seem to love the hot humid summer in the Great Black Swamp)
Music to my ears. I will certainly try one or both of those varieties. I am in Toledo area also.
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