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Old 05-17-2013, 03:50 PM   #1
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Default Low Stress Training for Hops

Low Stress Training (LST) is not a new idea and it works well for other plants. From looking at other threads, it looks like some of you are doing something similar already. It is a little like espalier.

The idea with LST is to promote what would be underutilized bottom growth to better utilized top growth.

Take a plant, hops in this case, that has a vertical growth habit and bend it horizontal. This will encourage that bottom growth to grow more and grow upward. The natural top of the plant will continue to do its thing. I think this will work especially well with hops since I read about trimming back to one or two bines per rhizome, or where they come out in a cluster. It should make a plant with one bine grow as if it were many bines. This also allows more light and air to the plant. It should make harvesting easier, too.

Wait until the plant is strong enough to take being bent, but hasn't gotten to hard or woody yet. Take a length of fishing line, twine or whatever and loop it around the stem near the top. Weight or pin the free ends of the line to the ground. This will bend the plant down, horizontal. Be careful, you can bend too much and break the plant.

Repeat this as the tip continues to grow. Do this until the plant is as long as you like. Then, just let it grow. I think the hops will have to stay weighted or pinned to retain the best horizontal position. That should be just fine.

There will probably have to be adjustments made to the ties along the way. Plants can also be tied along the bottom, now top growth, as you like.

If you're familiar with trimming a plant to make it branch out more, this is like that without the stress and potential disease or pest attack of healing cuts. You also don't loose any plant material.

Here's a fancy drawing to illustrate, and what I have right now. This is a first year Cascade. I used fishing line and a slip shot weight.











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Old 05-17-2013, 04:17 PM   #2
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Wish i had the space to try it.



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Old 05-17-2013, 04:57 PM   #3
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I'm interested in how this goes. Some side branches will begin to grow like main bines when you train them to climb. A couple concerns I would have are danger of mildew and creating too many sub-binds(?). The reason for trimming undergrowth is specifically to guard against mildew, reduce pest attack, and promote nutrients toward the upper portion of the plant where most of the hops are produced. Then, the reason for pruning the plant to 4 bines is to maximize the production of of the plant. I wonder how the increased foliage will bear on the bine and cone production.

Keep us posted

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Old 05-17-2013, 05:12 PM   #4
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uh...interesting. When I search on "Low Stress Training", all the images that come up are of hops "cousin".

That aside, I have my doubts this will work. Everytime you bend the bine over and pin it to the ground, that's basically the same as what we call "laying down the bine" for the purpose of propagation. Every pin point will start rooting. The plant will be putting its energy into root propagation instead of cone production.

It would also limit the amount of time the plant has to grow up. If it doesn't hit at least 12 feet, you will seriously impact production. I would suspect that one cluster of 3 bines at 16 feet high would out produce 8 bines at 6 feet high.

I will state I'm not a horticulturalist and this is just my gut feel. I would love to be proven wrong.

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Old 05-17-2013, 05:26 PM   #5
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Let's assume the intent of this alternative training was not to provide ground contact at the "pinning" points, and take that off the table. Then what?

I'm not sure one can relate production from more conventional approaches gone poorly to this paradigm. If the OP is going to take two of the same strain plants and do one conventionally and the other alternatively, it would be a valid and interesting experiment that I'd enjoy watching progress to a conclusion...

Cheers!

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Old 05-17-2013, 05:35 PM   #6
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OK, so if the pinning is kept out of the soil, you just end up with a horizontally growing plant.

Now the question becomes, does just one sidearm try to become the new dominate growing tip or does one side arm per pinning point become a dominate growing tip.

And if it is the latter, will they have time to grow tall enough to produce more than if they just grew straight up in the first place?

I agree, it would be interesting to see a side by side comparison.

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Old 05-17-2013, 05:44 PM   #7
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I basically do the same thing by growing on chain link fence rows. Works pretty well. I'm not sure that laying the bine on the ground is the best practice thoug. You're just asking for insect damage. I would let it grow about a foot tall or so and then start training it horizontally.

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Old 05-17-2013, 05:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GVH_Dan View Post
OK, so if the pinning is kept out of the soil, you just end up with a horizontally growing plant.

Now the question becomes, does just one sidearm try to become the new dominate growing tip or does one side arm per pinning point become a dominate growing tip.

And if it is the latter, will they have time to grow tall enough to produce more than if they just grew straight up in the first place?

I agree, it would be interesting to see a side by side comparison.
I don't think time is a major factor unless you have a very short growing season. My neighbors gardener tore most of my CTZ plant off the fence (thinking it was a nuisance vine) mid to late June a couple years back. It made a full recovery in no time and I still got a pretty nice harvest from it. Not quite as good as it would have been, but much more than I expected. The only big difference was, harvest was delayed by about a month.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:44 PM   #9
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I didn't know they rooted so easily that way. I'll have to keep an eye on that. It could be bent to just above the ground or a piece of plastic could be put under it where it would touch.

I'll look more into the 12' thing, too.

It would be great to do a side by side, but this is the only one up so far. Gotta run what I brung.

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Old 05-17-2013, 07:53 PM   #10
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As the bines grow, you'll have an abundance of growth as it is. I'm guessing this is the first year you've planted hops? They may not look like much in year one, but in a few years, you'll have difficulty keeping up with them and any attempt to make them bushier will be wayyyy unnecessary.


As noted above though, they root easily and you'll have additional growth in subsequent years if you bury some of the bines this year. Spend the first year nurturing the plant and be happy with what ever harvest you get. If i recall, i got about an ounce or so per plant in year one.



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