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Old 08-17-2012, 01:50 AM   #1
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Default Are my hops ready?

I know tons of these threads lately but this is my first harvest and I dont want to screw it up.
My cascades appear to be ready. The cones feel like tissue paper, yellow lupulin in the center. The only thing is they don't smell like hops. When I pick one of the flowers and rub it between my hands and smell it smells like plant material. None of the amazing cascade aromas are there. Will that come once they are dried? Is something wrong?

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Old 08-17-2012, 02:54 AM   #2
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Wish I knew the answer to your question. I'm in the exact same boat here. Have no real clue if my hops are ready, or exactly when I will know. Part of the learning process. Like everything else with this hobby it will get easier the next time. Good luck to you.

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Old 08-17-2012, 02:55 AM   #3
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This my first year growing hops as well, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt...I have cascades as well, and they exploded. I transplanted 3 six inch bines from a neighbor and they shot up a bunch of side bines and I have 9 bines that are all 7-9 feet with a fairly good first year crop (relatively speaking). Here is what I have read and noticed from my plants and on this site; First years apparently can be less than ideal in quality, size, smell, lupulin production etc. so that may explain your smell problem to some extent. My biggest, most mature cones are 1.5-2 inches (which I think is a fair size, since I've read that cascades cones are normally smaller than some other species cones). There is a little yellow (lupulin) powder visible just below the very top cone leafs...on the smaller cones I don't see much powder or smell that distinctive hop smell, but the bigger ones I do when I rub my fingers together with the yellow powder.

Also, I am glad to know there are more growers out there that are itching to harvest, but I think it is better to wait than not. If you wait until there are a few cones starting to turn yellow/brown you will ensure maturity and you will allow that lupulin to increase in amount and aroma. I noticed that there are some cones I consider 'big' and I have wanted to harvest for a week or two, but I noticed that if you squeeze them gently the whole cone is not papery. I noticed the bottom 1/3 is a little green and squishy...which I think means they need to get more 'papery.' Oh Patience, I need it! I think I am going to wait until I see one of my big cones go to a real faded yellow, almost brown and then I am going to harvest a first round. I also noticed that some of the cones I thought were 'ready' to harvest a week ago or two, have since grown even another quarter to half inch!

So in closing, I hope an expert will jump in and confirm (or critique) what I have said. I think patience is key, so when in doubt wait. I only say that according to what you have described with your situation. Cheers!

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Old 08-17-2012, 03:47 PM   #4
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so rdwhahb? haha

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Old 08-17-2012, 04:06 PM   #5
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break a couple of them open and smell... mine were FULL of lupin, even the smaller ones... so I as well... RDWHAHB and picked away...

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Old 08-19-2012, 10:12 PM   #6
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the amount of lupin is what I guage. Then the smell of the hops. I worry more on picking them to late then to early. Heard older hops smell / taste worse in brewing then younger hops (from BN radio). I am a first year grower, so go with someone else's advise. I am a newbie.

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Old 08-25-2012, 03:21 AM   #7
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The tale of two harvests. I posted earlier on 8/17...only 2 days (8/19) later I saw my first yellow/brown hop cone leaves and I thought 'hey, hey harvest time.' So I went out and found very few other cones like that. As I was harvesting I noticed there was not a strong 'hops' smell, more grassy, I did however see some yellow lupulin at the tops of the cones. They were a bit tough to pull off the bines, and I was starting to think...hmm, they seem a bit green. Anyway, I threw 2 oz. in my dehdrator at 95 deg. F for 6 hrs. and all I smelled was that same grassy smell.

Only 4 days later on the 8/23, I went out and this time I saw a couple cones that were starting to get dried out. So, I started picking. This time my hands started to smell like that characteristic 'hop' smell. The cones were 'popping off' the bine much easier than before. This time the very top cone leaves were starting to dry and pointing up, and there were a few other cone leaf tips that were browned. I think was the right timing for this harvest. I only took another 3 oz., but I could smell that hop smell in the bucket. Cascades tend to have that grassy smell in the dehydrator, but this time it was more phenolic almost like banana, and I broke open a couple and the lupulin was little more dark yellow/orange colored and smelled great.

So there you have it. I came back to HBT after my first attempt, and found more threads related to cascades and harvest cues to properly harvest and I think I've got it now. Maybe that is some help.

p1030124.jpg   p1030177.jpg   p1030182.jpg  
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Old 08-28-2012, 09:58 PM   #8
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I have first year Cascade and Mt Hood. Very interesting results and I probably should have done a bit more research first. So here is what I experienced: spider mites, grasshoppers and leaf bugs; however, an ok Mt Hood harvest I think (again probably needed to wait a few more days) and now I have some cascades growing up my Mt Hood vines. For the spider mites and leaf bug issues I used my tomato plant leaves and made a quick brew/soak and sprayed that on and that seemed to work well... I didn't pick the flowers then dry, I cut the vines and dried the flowers on the vine (like tomatoes in the store kinda) in my living room for 3 days, then picked the flowers... I smell grass from the outside and then when I roll the flower around I get the hop aroma. Should I pick the flowers off before dehydrating? Your cascade hop shown with the ruler is helpful, that is what I am now seeing in the more mature flowers (from lower arms), whereas my first cascades (top of the plant) were not so elongated, but then again they also had the mites which were totally screwing them up.

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Old 08-29-2012, 06:15 AM   #9
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Yes powmonster, it seems Cascades are vulnerable to a host of pests. i was fighting off japanese beetles, spider mites and leaf beetle/bugs all season. Not as much hit my nugget. The centennial was only visited by the japanese beetles. Most of my cascades were NOT that elongated, and even when I waited longer they didn't seem to elongate that much more. Yes the pic is one of my nice ones and there were several more like that, but if you look closer at the dehydrator pic, there are a lot of 'average' cones...biggest thing for readiness is if the top cone leaves are pointing up and a bit dried out/brown. I didn't get the impression that the spider mites were screwing up the growth, so to speak. Which on a side note I got some pyrerithrin based powder and that took care of the mites and japanese beetles all at once. i know they say that is not good for bees, but it was later in the season and i only needed to apply it once on two different parts of the plant (not the whole plant). I am not sure about drying them on the bine, doesn't sound like it would hurt. I just pluck 'em and dry 'em as they come due. I attached a pic with some elongated cones and a bunch of 'average' sized cones surrounding them. Cheers.

p1030180.jpg  
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Old 08-29-2012, 04:32 PM   #10
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UWBucky, thanks for the info and hey, Nice Cones you got there! I think I had some tough conditions for my hops... Plenty of water and nutrients, but we had a ton of wind this year and my structure is minimal (just one vertical per shoot/bine of coated stainless steel wire), so they took some hits early on. Then it was the hottest summer on record and my cascade was in direct sunlight for most of the day at an angle that I think created the issue. Then the pests. Then I picked too early. A learning experience! I have had them out for a day now in the open 90+ degree dry Denver air and they still smell like grass, but again, break em open and they are everything you think of hops being... so I am still unsure if I should use them or pitch 'em, what do you think? Here is a pick of the structure I created for them:

hop-bine-structure.jpg  
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