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Old 09-27-2008, 10:48 PM   #1
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Default planning to grow hops next year, how to choose varieties?

With the hop shortage this year, and my general addiction to anything brew related, I plan to grow a couple of hop vines next year. I was thinking of starting with two varieties to get started. I'm thinking Saaz and Goldings, but is that a good mix? I generally brew ales, mostly English and Belgian styles. Does this seem like a good combo for my needs?

How do you decide?

Scott

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Old 09-27-2008, 11:41 PM   #2
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I think it would be important to find varieties that would grow well in your area, and that are problem free. I grow cascades and hallertau, and they do ok. Well, the cascades do very well, and the hallertau do "ok". I think Goldings grew pretty well in most places that have four seasons, but I have no idea about saaz.

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Old 09-28-2008, 12:00 AM   #3
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Choice IMO comes to what you brew with and what you can easily get - ie, no point in paying for rhizomes if someone in easy reach has the plant in question (my experience is that after the first year you mostly need to find something to do with all the rhizomes growing where you don't want them).

I have Tettnanger, Saaz, Hallertaur and Cascade in NorthWestern Mass, zone 4.

The relative health and well-being is Tettnanger, Saaz, Cascade, Halletaur, but I have them growing in 4 widely separated spots so that I actually know what each one is - if several varieties are planted close to each other, it's a major root-pruning job to keep the variety straight. So the vigor may be partly do to location, though it's interesting to see that Hallertaur is only "OK" for at least one other grower, too.

My plants are ~10 years old at this point - ie, I'm not a hop crisis planter, and yet my Hallertaur is still just OK - it may want more TLC, it might be happier in a sunnier spot, I don't know. My Cascade is more or less reverted to weed - it's up in a part of the yard I've not gotten back to in a while, but still making it. The backup Saaz up there expired, so perhaps Cascade is really better than Saaz, vigor-wise.

Given what/how I brew I'd like to get Fuggles and EKG. Darned if I know where I'd put them, though.

As for how they grow in your climate, unless you can find a near-neighbor growing them, it's probably best to just plant types you use, and see how they do at your site with your weather and soil. Here in the east we are no longer a commercial production area in part becasue we are more prone to mildews and such-like that affect hops.

Here is a link from Vermont - seems to be stuck in 1999, but mostly still there: Hops Information

That includes a page listing various varieties and their tolerance or susceptibility to disease/pests.

Terminology nit-pick - bines, not vines. A difference your arms will notice when you handle them...

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Old 09-28-2008, 12:09 PM   #4
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What is a good resource for knowing which hops grow best in my area? Until now, I have been told that as long as you have a lot of sunlight, and provide ample water, hops will grow anywhere.

Scott

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Old 09-28-2008, 12:44 PM   #5
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They are, on the one hand, essentially a weed. Plants that have been abandoned for 50 years and still grow are not uncommon.

On the other hand, when you want to collect the cones, you will note some differences between your hops in how well they do.

Go ahead and plant Saaz and Goldings. The Goldings will probably do somewhat better, at least per the comments on this page Hop Varieties and my own experience is that the Saaz is more likely to have leaves turning strange colors (presumably mildew) and have critters on it (big nasty caterpillars in addtion to some red mites as mentioned.

It makes hops, it just doesn't make as many as my Tettnanger does.

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Old 09-28-2008, 01:03 PM   #6
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It seems like I need to spend some time reading that page. Where my original post was intending to go was not so much on the how to of hops, but if you're going to pick a few to grow, which are versatile for the styles I noted. I'm guessing this is not a common practice so I'll need to do my own homework to figure out what is the most appropriate for me to grow.

I have been looking forward to growing my own hops for many years. I'm excited for next year's harvest.

Scott

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Old 09-28-2008, 08:58 PM   #7
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First, think of which hops you brew with the most. Then choose from those hops ones that will grow well in your area.

For instance:
Saaz produces very little even in the best growing conditions. Cascades will grow well and produce vast quantities in almost any environment with enough sun. So, if you like both saaz and cascade, go with cascade.

I get all my hop-growing info from the freshops website.

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Old 09-29-2008, 12:15 AM   #8
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I couldn't find any information on what hops grow well in my region. I checked Freshops and the other links provide in this thread and did not find any mention of growing regions or general weather conditions by variety. Could you point me in the right direction?

Also, I think my intent is not what you are thinking. I do not want to grow hops to save money. So simply picking the varieties I use most is not necessarily optimal. I am looking to have hops when I need them. I spent five weeks trying to get the hops I needed for the brews I am planning. I drove to four different stores in three different cities. I made telephone calls, emails, etc. It was not easy, but I eventually found the hops I needed. I do not want to repeat this experience. I know that many hop varieties or reasonable substitutes for others. I brew almost entirely English and Belgian styles. This may be too broad to pick a few varieties of hops to grow. I do not know since I'm not a hop expert. Which is why I'm posting here. Maybe I need to look at a hop comparison chart with substitutes... if such a single resource exists. Then pick a few varieties that are versatile enough for the styles I brew, and that can grow in my area. Do you know of such a hop compairons that might exist? I have seen a few hops compared to others, but never a comprehensive list.

Cheers,
Scott

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Old 09-29-2008, 12:43 AM   #9
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Here are a couple of reference pages for hops and their subs

http://www,byo.com/referenceguide/hops/

Hops Profile Chart


Myself, living in Iowa and loving Cascades and Centennials planted both of them and Nuggets for their high AA%. I figured Cascades being a lower AA% and Cents being in the middle AA% I needed something for bittering and Nuggets are very hardy and high in AA%. so I would be covered if the hop situation got even worse. But I like APA's and IPA's so I really can't help you on your preferred styles. Good Luck!!

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Old 09-29-2008, 12:56 AM   #10
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This might help you more. Gives you detailed info on growing and subs and styles and more!!

http://www.hopunion.com-variety-databook.pdf

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