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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Hops Growing > How long is the picking window?
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Old 08-26-2014, 11:57 AM   #1
travlinScott
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Default How long is the picking window?

Ok, so this is my first year growing hops, and I didn't necessarily EXPECT to get any kind of crop right away, but thankfully, I did. They're not quite ready to pick yet, I don't think. But I believe they are close. My question is, once they are ready, how long do I have before they're going to be "bad". I suspect it depends on the weather and conditions somewhat, but can anyone give me a rough estimate? Thanks guys.

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Old 08-26-2014, 06:35 PM   #2
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Yes, depends, but in good conditions (the plants have enough water, etc), you'll have about a week of prime ripeness before the decline will start.

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Old 08-26-2014, 06:51 PM   #3
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Yes, depends, but in good conditions (the plants have enough water, etc), you'll have about a week of prime ripeness before the decline will start.
ok thanks and just to confirm - they are starting to get "papery" (I think, at least as compared to before) but I think I'm also look for some stickiness and fairly pronounced odor... Isn't that right.

Thanks in advance for any information. I'm just kind of wandering blind through my first year here.
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Old 08-27-2014, 12:42 AM   #4
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Determining ripeness is an art and takes practice. I look for paperyness, but also subtle differences in the pungency of the odor, how the color of the lupulin turns from bright yellow to goldish-orange, slight browning of the cones, etc.

Try and find one cone that is under-ripe, one over-ripe, and one perfect. Assuming they're all from the same plant, that's a good time to harvest the plant.

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Old 08-27-2014, 12:56 AM   #5
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I notice that it takes a couple of weeks for the tips to brown and lupulin to darken. I also live in IL with high humidity and rain in late summer. I'll look for a few top cones that are almost all brown, and consider it time to harvest and toss the browned ones. I use the papery feel test, squish test, and sniff test. It takes me about 3 days to dry my hops in the oast with a fan on low.

This year I am considering the time that I harvest, and thinking about chopping my sprouts to the ground accordingly in spring. Last week I harvested my Cascade and Chinook. This week or next I'll be harvesting my Zeus and Nugget. Next year, I'm thinking of chopping my Cascade and Chinook sprouts to the ground 2 weeks after I chop my Nugget and Zeus sprouts to coordinate harvests. Theoretically, they'll mature at about the same time next year. Does this make sense, given the plants will be given the same growing Conditions, soil, and water? Should I just hack it all at the same time and have staggered harvests?

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Old 08-27-2014, 01:07 AM   #6
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Wont matter, all my plants grow at different rates every year. My cascade was the first plant ready last year, it will be the last plant ready this year.

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Old 08-27-2014, 01:30 AM   #7
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Wont matter, all my plants grow at different rates every year. My cascade was the first plant ready last year, it will be the last plant ready this year.
Dang. My Nuggets right on schedule. I harvested on this weekend last year on it. I'll be harvesting either this weekend or next.
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Old 08-29-2014, 01:49 PM   #8
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Thanks for the input guys. The cascades are juuuuuust starting to brown and smell pretty decent to me. The sterling actually FEEL more "papery" to me. But they're a still really light green and there's no odor or really any lupulin at all as far as I can tell. Neither plant produced a ton of hops, but I think I can squeeze a reasonable flavor and aroma addition from each for a couple of beers. I'm going to take a shot with the cascade on Monday and use them in a wet hopped steam beer. It might be a little early for them but what the hell, no one ever accused me of being patient. The sterling I'm going let sit and just keep an eye on them.

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