Im considering growing hops and i've been researching which would be the best types to grow around here. i figured i'd see if anyone has had any experience/advice they can give me about growing in this area. Im located in southern virginia in the hampton roads area.
We have a grow season here in MA of May 21-Oct 1st give or take a week. I have been able to gr0w Columbus, Cascade, and Centennial. How long between frosts for you? It will take a couple of grow cycles to see results so don't be dissapointed if it doesn't produce much the first or second year. I used about 5 gallons of compost per plant and a sprinkle of lime across the top to stabilize the Ph and I had good results my first year.
You should be good with most varieties. I am in TN about 30 min from the VA border. I have 11 varieities that I grow here and all of them do pretty well especially the nugget, chinook and brewers gold. I also get a true dual harvest as well. The plants start coming up on or about March 8 and are full of ripe cones by June 14. I then cut them back and let them go again and get another good harvest about mid sept.
Biggest issue you would have is not necessarily variety but the humidity and spider mites. The varieties youll want are those that have good resistance to powdery and downy mildew due to the high humidity in the area. Keep them sprayed with your choice of anti fungal sprays and if you dont have or havent noticed any lady bugs around...youll want plenty of those to help with Spider Mites during the hotter dryer parts of the season.
Jap beetles and Hop Merchants could also be an issue. If you see a hop merchant stop right then and start spraying with Bt or you will not have any hop plants at all. 2 hop merchants can easily strip a 16' plant of every leaf it has over night. While you will often read that Hop Merchants are not a problem in the PNW they are a real issue here in the south where we are in thier natural habitat zone.
Jap beetles are a passing nuisance. As long as you are not inundated with them by the thousands then they do little to a fair amount of dmg but only for a month +/- a week. All my plants (200+) had little to no dmg from them.
The clay soil in this area is also a bit of a concern -be prepared to lime pretty heavily based on the amount of clay in your soil. Now is a very good time to lime and let it set over the winter so that it can penetrate into the soil.
I'm in Williamsburg. I planted 6 cascades in late April or so. I went with Cascade just because they are said to be the the most versatile and hardiest. From all my research I wasn't expecting much yield in my first year. Five plants survived and yielded close to a pound a plant! Enough to brew an all fresh hop ale and then some. I harvested in August and September.
One recommendation, get a pick up and go to the Newport News compost facility. $20 and they fill up the back of your truck with 100% compost. Enough to fill a 4' X 16' raised bed I built. Didn't have to treat my soil all season and my hops seemed pretty happy.