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Old 06-15-2011, 02:40 PM   #1
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Default Post your method of choosing when to harvest....not HOW to harvest.

I'm still learning how to judge the proper time to harvest and thought it'd be a nice idea to have a thread for people to share their experiences/ suggestions/ thoughts on the topic. I know everyone says to wait till the cones go "papery", but maybe some people can share their methods of gauging how far from harvest the cones are by certain stages of the growth etc. Good idea? Y/N?

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Old 06-15-2011, 05:19 PM   #2
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It's so tempting to harvest when they're huge and green, but you really need to wait until you've got a little browning on the edges and they crunch and quickly "rebound" when you squeeze them.

I've just taken out the ladder and scoured bines every few days once I've found a cone or two that was ready.

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Old 08-22-2011, 05:38 PM   #3
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Will the hop "fragrance" be detectable from cones still on the bine? If so, does it increase as the hop approaches the best harvest time? Trying to determine if there is a smell test to guide me so I don't harvest too early.

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Old 08-22-2011, 05:48 PM   #4
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I'm into my 4th year of hop growing and I know that I've harvested too soon in the first few years. It's so tempting and you don't want them to rot on the vine. Yes, wait until they are papery. It's hard to imagine what that means if you've never been told, see, here, this is what a papery cone feels like. Get a napkin, like a fast food napkin, and roll it into a tight ball. Squeeze it between two fingers. Here that sound? That's it.

Now put a few drops of water on it and let it soak through. Squeeze again. That's a cone that's not ready yet.

You can also feel the moisture level to an extent. They don't feel cool to the touch when they're ready to pick.

Another way is by how easily they pop off the vine. When they are ready, they come off easier but this one is hard to know without experience.

Take one of the longer cones off the vine and try folding it in half top to bottom. The center bract will break before you can make it into a 90 degree bend if they are ready.

The aroma test is hard because they start smelling well before they are ready. One thing I may admit to is that if you rub them between your hands to spread the resin out, the "ready" smell is more hoppy than grassy. Still, in both cases it will smell different than what you get when you open a bag of pellet hops.

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Old 08-22-2011, 08:20 PM   #5
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Well, I'm no expert on hops as this is my first harvest year. However I can tell you what I've seen with my plants.

My centennial was the first to produce cones. They started to get big so I opened one up. The lupulin was visible but light yellow, the cones were green, and the smell was slightly grassy/very lemony.

That was about 3 weeks ago. Today I climbed up and picked the most mature-looking cone from the very top of the plant, which were the first to set. It was just started to brown a little on the edges, and was pretty much the only browning one I could find.

The color was much lighter green than the younger cones. The lupulin was starting to look orange-ish instead of yellow. It smelled WAAAY better than the younger ones. I think it was mature enough to harvest.

However, since it was the only one apparently this ripe, I'm leaving the plant alone for a little longer to let the younger cones catch up a little. Right now, unless I see some serious browning at the top, I'm planning on harvesting Labor Day weekend (two more weeks) and making a wet-hop ale with them then.

I have to say though, having not known the difference between under-ripe and ripe before today, the difference was extremely obvious. If you're not sure, wait.

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Old 08-22-2011, 09:16 PM   #6
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It's tough to try to explain something tactile, but Bobby M has done a good job explaining it. This might help too. I took these last year to show a buddy their relative "readyness".

It's a short video showing the hop squeeze. I think a balled up piece of tissue paper is the best descriptor. Mine never smelled like a pouch of pellets which I expected for some reason. But they were, in fact, ready and perfect.





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Old 09-15-2012, 07:11 PM   #7
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Follow your local hop merchant on Twitter and harvest a couple of days after they do! I live in NW Ireland, and I'm planning on harvesting a fortnight after the Kent growers, as that's how late our season kind-of is, on average. That way, I get an expert opinion on when to harvest.

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Old 09-16-2012, 05:35 PM   #8
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I like to smell them and take a look at the color of the resin. I do not go so much on the squeeze test. In the morning all the hops are full of moisture. Afternoon, they kind of dry out a little. Northern states may not have this issue. BTW I am new to this, so don't take my word for it. I do squeeze test, but just to confirm. I do pick them when they sun hits them for awhile. I notice they dry faster.

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Old 09-19-2012, 09:21 PM   #9
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there are a lot of videos on youtube that give you examples of what a ripe hop cone looks like.

here's one:


plenty of other ones
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Old 09-20-2012, 08:37 PM   #10
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Yep, just as I thought, too soon!

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