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-   -   South Florida Hop Growing (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f92/south-florida-hop-growing-261214/)

edecambra 08-06-2011 05:01 PM

South Florida Hop Growing
Hello Everyone. I just wanted to start this by saying that growing down south can in fact be done, if you do it right!

Before I planted my hops I was looking for some information on growing in southern latitudes and the information was spotty, I saw some posts from growers in the south but their results were inconclusive, and their advice was mysterious.

Most people suggest the "northern growers approach" for us folks in the south, and I think this is flawed. First-off the "12-14" hours of sun light reasoning, I think, is necessary only in the northern states. The sun down here is very intense, and those who have been here know that standing in the sun during the summer (at any time of day) it feels like your skin is peeling off sometimes. If you plant hops in direct sunlight all day it will torch them! Many of my club mates have had this very experience.

Anyway, My hops get morning sun, and afternoon shade. They get about 4.5-5 hours of direct sunlight a day. I am limited on space, living in a condo, so I only have two plants; nugget and cascade. The nugget is not growing as hardily as the cascades, and haven't produced any full cones yet.

My cascades however are growing like crazy, I have probably at least 1 pound of wet hops right now and they haven't stopped producing burs and cones. I get new shoots and growth on a daily basis.

So here are the pictures, what everyone was waiting for I'm sure:
hops on the left are cascades and nugget on the right.

Cascades!! the photo doesn't do it justice, there are cones everywhere

more cascades:

close up shot

and maybe some mutations?? this one looks like it will be sprouting burs all over? Anyone know?

edecambra 08-06-2011 05:05 PM

Also, I forgot to mention. The cascade trellis is from one rhizome. These are first year growth plants, planted in early May.

I would suggest the following for others who are interested in growing down south but skeptical
  • Plant in the ground, I think most plants do much better if they are in the ground and not a pot
  • Make sure that your hops get afternoon shade, so they don't get burnt.
  • Follow other watering, pruning, and fertilizing techniques listed here.
  • Plant American "C" hops, my cascades are rocking and I feel that other "C" varieties would do well in the heat too.

I am no seasoned veteran at growing hops down here but I just wanted to open a discussion for those who are not confident that it can be done.

I have a few questions that I am going to deal with this coming year, and I want to see if anyone has suggestions here:
I don't plan on digging them up and "refrigerating" them as I have heard suggested. We obviously don't get a freeze and I don't know if I want to leave the bines up and just harvest the cones or if I should cut the bines back to the ground after the harvest and let them grow again. Does anyone know if, post harvest, hop bines will start producing more cones or if they have to be chopped down and grow again to produce more? If no one knows I will just harvest and see if I can get hops year round, but I have no idea how that will work.
suffice it to say in either case, I will keep everyone here posted.

Fantastical 08-08-2011 04:28 AM

Good to see!! I'm glad that people in "less ideal" climates are able to grow hops as well!

ForerunnerBrewer 08-08-2011 01:24 PM

-I am very impressed that you are getting that much of a harvest on such a low trellis... wow! I live in a townhouse complex as well and it is indeed hard to find space. I built a box for my hops and have been improving at every step along the way because it is near impossible to just put together an ideal trellis system. Next year I will definitely not use a box (36"x18"x12") because there simply aren't enough nutrients to support such a large weed. Actually I have 2 in that box!
-After 2 months of improv and tacky bandaid fixes I gave in and erected a 20' trellis which thankfully is fairly well hidden from most angles so I don't have complaints or the HOA on my back!
-You have a good point about the heat. My Cascades have full sun all day and it's been blistering here in the Charlotte NC area lately. I have kept up on the watering and it seems to be doing well for the most part. I think the top though struggles with getting enough water in the hottest days. There was a weekend a month ago however that it went unwatered. I thought it would be ok because I read that the tap root would just go deeper and get deeper water. Well, the Cascades were wilting when I came back (as you mentioned my cedar box isn't as efficient with water retention). It was then that I first noticed some of my leaves cupping upward and I freaked out... my babies! That branch of the bine has recently put out many burrs but they are still cupped and they seem to be stalling out and taking a very long time to grow compared to the other branches/bines.
-It is indeed necessary to water alot in these hot climates. I know it is possible to grow in the south, and you/I definitely have to keep a close watch especially in the first year. Some may be encouraged that I even planted a Northern Brewer rhizomes 6-7 weeks ago which is supposed to have a hard time in hotter climates. It now has 2 bines over 3 feet, and a total of 5 growing well! Water, mulch, nutrition.

I have the same questions regarding "post season growth" as it won't get below freezing until mid November/December. We may get a long harvest time. And I suspect that in your case if it doesn't die back that you will have a more than hardy if not overgrown/enormous rhizomes by next spring!

captainL 08-08-2011 05:19 PM

looks good. What kind of fertilizer are you using!! I'm in houston and I planted a first year cascade in a 10 gallon pot. It gets sun from morning to evening, about 8 to 9 hours. Our lack or rain has probably affected them but my cones are small and leaves are losing their "greenness". I chewed on a few and they just kind of taste like....grass. It's also drying out quite a bit. Some of the cones turned brown. I'm not too worried about them this year as I am moving in a month and they will be planted in the ground when i get a chance. Curious about what to do in the winter although we do get a couple of lite freezes.

passedpawn 08-08-2011 05:44 PM

Where did you get your rhizomes?

nwmarach 08-08-2011 05:51 PM

I'm a northern grower (Lake Superior Area). As for cutting back on first year plants I've read to leave all the vegetation until it gets killed off by frost. For first year plants this is important to give them a long growing season to build up a good root base otherwise if you cut them off after harvest energy is going to be spent growing a new bine versus growing new roots. The big commercial growers cut them down for ease of harvest.

Digging up rhizomes for the winter will basically set them back 1/2 a season (need to regrow root base), however they do need to go into hibernation for (I think I read somewhere) 6-8 weeks in order to produce cones at their full potential. So as far as digging vs. keeping in ground that it kind of seems like a horse a piece for the southern grower situation.

Now if any of this is applicable to people growing hops in the south, I couldn't tell you. I hope this helps or at least gives you something else to wonder about. Happy growing.

ArcaneXor 08-08-2011 05:58 PM

Good on you. Pretty much everyone I have talked to hasn't had any luck growing hops in the panhandle and central Florida.

HopsJunkie 08-08-2011 06:03 PM

Great post. Being a native Floridian, I know there aren't many folks down here growing hops. One day, I too will do this. Where abouts are you located in S. Florida, edecambra?

edecambra 08-09-2011 04:10 AM

Hello all thanks for the comments. I am in sunrise, essentially a suburb of ft lauderdale for those who don't know. To answer some questions:

1. The trellis is 5 feet, but I have gone through great pains to weave the bines back and forth so if I had to guess if say they may be a total of 15 feet give or take a few feet.

2. I applied a 6 month fertilizer about two weeks after I planted them, specifically for vegies. I also throw coffee grounds on the roots, along with other compost matter from the kitchen (no dedicated compost heap though)

3. I have decent lupulin formation though I can't say for sure since I haven't brewed with them. They smell nice though.

4. I am planning on leaving then in the ground year round to see what kind of growth I get, both cone formation and usability of cones. I an debating whether to cut the bines back to the ground though. I an not so worried about root growth before winter because it doesn't freeze here. Either way I will keep everyone posted with what I choose and my results.

5. I got my rhizomes from niko

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