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Old 06-12-2011, 10:01 PM   #1
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Default Something's wrong with my 4 year old Centennial Hop Plant

One of my best hop plants, a 4 Year Old Centennial bine, is sick. This plant lives in a flower bed and climbs up a railing. Most of my plants grow but I've struggled with problems over the years. Spider mites are a battle I've mostly won. I don't think the soil composition is that great, but my plants are bigger and healthier each year. The hops themselves have not been great, rather weak in bitterness and rather grassy/oniony.

This spring, I've neglected the plants somewhat. I've pruned them rather heavily, including a big clean up last weekend, followed by a miracle gro feeding. But, this particular Centennial is not doing well. I don't know if the plant is just stressed, has a nutrient deficiency, or a disease. I can say that insects do not seem to be a problem for me this year on any plant so far.

Symptoms:
- Older leaves show some downcurling and brown/yellow spots.
- New side branches have been stunted, with tight but underdeveloped leaves.
- Some of the small flowers ("spikes?" What are those things called?) have regressed and are looking like small grey buds.

Our weather has been pretty extreme, with periods of 90+F days followed by tons of rain, wind and 70F weather.

What do you think the problem is? Looks like it could be verticillium wilt?

1.jpg   2.jpg   3.jpg   4.jpg   5.jpg  

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Old 06-12-2011, 10:38 PM   #2
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I don't know! I wish I could help! It's a beautiful plant and I wish you luck! SAVE IT

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Old 06-12-2011, 11:46 PM   #3
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Could be water stress, at least by the symptoms (although you say you're getting rain). Dig up a small spot 6-10" down and see how moist the soil is underneath the top layer. If your soil is sandy it may need more frequent, less intense watering rather than less frequent, super-intense watering.

Also, if all you're fertilizing with is miracle grow every once in awhile and not replacing organic matter with biodegradable mulches/compost, your soil after 4 years could be lacking in critical elements that essentially makes the topsoil dead. You can remedy this (and is a good idea to improve your soil even if you don't think that's the problem) by sprinkling some complete organic fertilizer (this is my favorite: http://www.territorialseed.com/product/9459/267) lightly over the ground, covering with some well-rotted compost (about 1/4"-1/2" thick), and then a mulch like straw or raked leaves. Water the whole thing thoroughly and everything growing in the bed will likely perk up within days.

All that being said, extreme heat followed by soaking rains can stress a plant. It could just be unfortunate weather.

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Old 06-13-2011, 01:13 AM   #4
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Could it be that the roots dont have anywhere else to go? The pavement on 2 sides forces the roots down and the foundation of the stairs would do the same... I had a similar situation with a grapevine on my old house... It ended up dying. Hopefully it is just a watering case in your situation.

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Old 06-13-2011, 10:00 AM   #5
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I'll 2¢ at it, I'm not to far away from you in Westchester and next to my steps is a flower bed (not where my hops are planted but) and after all the snow and ice storms over the winter that required lots of sodium chloride everthing is a little pokey. Could this be your situation?

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Old 06-13-2011, 01:47 PM   #6
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Interesting. I don't think it is a water situation... it's possible though. I do add organic compost to the hills each fall prior to the winter, but it's possible that it's just not enough.

I think runs4beer might be onto something.... tons of snow this winter... and I do snowblow right onto that flower bed. Certainly some "ice melt" (NaCl, Calcium Chloride) has made it into the soil.

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Old 06-13-2011, 02:02 PM   #7
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Right, right: Calcium Chloride.

With all the rain over the weekend it will help flush some of that out and if it drains well in that spot you could try to continually flush it with fresh water for a few days and see if that helps.
In affect you may have salted you own fields.

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Old 06-13-2011, 02:10 PM   #8
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I've never seen the primary leaves look as distorted as yours do in the first couple photos. The last two pics show some characteristic symptoms of Downy Mildew. Also, the lime green growth at the base of the plant in the first picture look like basil spikes which may be infected. It's pretty hard to make a diagnosis without actually being there because through pictures, some things may 'look' very similar to symptoms that they actually aren't. Sorry for the confusion but I would suggest doing a search on the web for 'hop downy mildew' and look at as many pictures as you can find.

If it is mildew, cleaning out the base of the plant by removing the lower leaves will make the environment less friendly for disease development. It's always best to make a confirmed diagnosis before you take any action. Good luck.

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Old 06-13-2011, 04:02 PM   #9
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Thanks B-Hoppy. I think you might be right.

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Old 06-14-2011, 05:00 AM   #10
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I would hesitate before calling it downy mildew. It does not seem to have either the angular, purplish lesions, or the fuzzy, brown sporangia (downy) under the leaves.

It does not look like disease to me, maybe nutrient deficiency? Boron deficiency can often cause deformities but those grayish buds just look weird!

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