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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Hops Growing > First year harvest was good: What I learned
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Old 08-11-2009, 07:46 AM   #1
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Default First year harvest was good: What I learned

First year hop grower (2 Cascade and 1 Centennial). Some things I did right, and wrong:

Did a "partial" harvest today of one of my cascades, which yielded a bit over 12 oz wet. Based on the remaining bines and buds and growth, plus the average sun I have left though October here (SoCal), I am sure I'll get at least three times that by final harvest from that single plant.

The other Cascade is booming too, and the Centennial, transplanted late (late June) is already 7 feet and rarin' to go.

So it is possible to have a great first year. What I did:

1) I had my gardener dig 36" deep holes in my backyard, and I filled them with Miracle Grow. I think this is absolutely key to having a good first year. I doubt commercial hop farms do this due to the expense, but 3-4 holes, why not? BTW, I tried standard gromulch at first, and young hop roots do not seem to like such coarse soil. Go with Miracle Grow.

2) I watered every day, obviously more as the plant grew. Hop roots don't like being waterlogged. But they aren't cactuses. Good soil in a deep hole drains, so over-watering shouldn't be a problem.

3) Used Miracle Grow plant food every 3 weeks or so.

4) Sun 14+ hours per day. This is key. Gotta find an area in your yard that gets good sun.

What I learned for next year:

1) Don't plant rhizomes that look like sticks. Gotta have shoots already sticking out of them, and Freshops sent me junkers. Cost me several weeks of growth having to replace them. LHBS fortunately had some still in stock in May, which saved me. Buy yours in-person if possible so you can pick out the ones that look more like Body Snatcher pods and less like dead twigs.

2) Higher trellises. 10 feet is not enough. I compensated for it in various ways, but 15 feet would have been much better. Fortunately, I can run them across my 25' clothesline.

3) Gotta prune early and often. Today I felt like I was breaking up two giant squid having sex trying to get the bines apart. Pick 3 bines early, keep them apart, and prune everything else. Otherwise you have a mess and the plant wastes energy. Failure to plan = giant squid sex.

Anyway, those who say you can't have a good first year are wrong, assuming you have good sun, good soil, and water every day.

Here are pics from 7-10 days ago (PoS Mediafire having some issues ATM).

Working on an IPA recipe...

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Old 08-11-2009, 11:19 AM   #2
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Now comes the dissapointing part watching that 12 oz. wet dry out to about 4 oz. Still, it looks like you had a good year.

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Old 08-11-2009, 01:23 PM   #3
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Looks good. I had similar results first year. Some of your cones look like they had worm holes in them. The ones I had that looked like that, I pulled them apart and a big worm came out... Did you get them out or just dry them???

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Old 08-11-2009, 07:58 PM   #4
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Looks good. I had similar results first year. Some of your cones look like they had worm holes in them. The ones I had that looked like that, I pulled them apart and a big worm came out... Did you get them out or just dry them???
Yeah, I had a worm drop out of one of them. Freezing them now. Any idea what kind of worm it is, and how to get rid of them? Insecticidal soap ran off the leafhoppers, but somebody left their evil progeny behind. I'd really like to treat my plants now, as I have a lot more cones growing.

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Now comes the disappointing part watching that 12 oz. wet dry out to about 4 oz. Still, it looks like you had a good year.
Thanks. Yeah, not really disappointing, as I know they will shrink when dried. But I am planning on using them "wet" anyway.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:51 PM   #5
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The only thing I would change is the Miracle Grow to an organic Fish and Kelp liquid fertilizer. I use Fertrel and or Neptune's Harvest. I can find the Fertrel cheaper then the Neptune's. I have great results with both.

Chardo

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Old 08-11-2009, 11:58 PM   #6
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Obviously, you mean in place of the MG fertilizer, rather than the soil.

I'm all for organic. I will try Fertrel if I can find it. I am absolutely convinced that feeding with something makes a huge difference. You should see my 5' tomato plant. I am so sold on plant fertilizer/food.

Just ordered some bt for the worms. Hope it works. Saw a moth last night on the wall near my hops that looked like a likely suspect for the green cutworm I found in my hop flower. The moth is deceased.

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The only thing I would change is the Miracle Grow to an organic Fish and Kelp liquid fertilizer. I use Fertrel and or Neptune's Harvest. I can find the Fertrel cheaper then the Neptune's. I have great results with both.

Chardo

FERTRELL-Soil Care Products
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:19 AM   #7
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I ordered from Freshops.com also. I had a few that worried me, but all is well and I have a booming crop. I just started them in a hole filler with manure and top soil. We have very good soil in my area, so that doesn't hurt.

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Old 08-12-2009, 03:12 AM   #8
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I also ordered from fresh hops (Cascade and Chinook). The Chinook took of and did well. The Cascade started then died. I reordered and the second batch is doing well. It did cost me some of the growing season though.

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Old 08-12-2009, 03:54 AM   #9
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I got one Jumbo Fuggle from Fresh hops and........



and it's bigger now. No cones, but I think first year is more about roots, so I didn't prune back at all

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Old 08-12-2009, 04:10 AM   #10
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I never tire of looking at trellis designs. You should take a pic from farther out - how far up do those strings go?

BTW, I honestly believe that potted hops get stunted, even in the first year. My Centennial stagnated for weeks until I transplanted it to the ground, then boom! Same soil, same watering, same plant food, just pots versus ground. Those roots need room!

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I got one Jumbo Fuggle from Fresh hops and........

and it's bigger now. No cones, but I think first year is more about roots, so I didn't prune back at all
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