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Old 08-30-2013, 04:22 PM   #1
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Default Southern hops, low yield

I'm in South Carolina and have two hills of Cascade, two years old. The bines climbed well and fast to the top of my trellis and I collected hops as they matured rather than in one harvest.

I stored my hops in one bag, so I know that I ended up with just 1.3 ounces dried. ...not even worth my effort.

As I understand that others in my area are able to harvest much more than this, I am wanting to ask for advice as to what I might do different to get more hops?

Here is my setup/technique:
- Hills are spaced about 5 feet apart, trellis is 10 feet tall
- Mounds are probably 8 inches in height, but I increase them as I can
- I use potting soil, compost, and composted manure
- I did not selectively cut out slower growing bines, but let them ALL grow up the twine.

My thought is to certainly build my hills up higher and to cut down the slower growing bines in Spring 2014, only allowing the strongest 3 or 4 from the rhyzome to climb. Do you think this will help, or did I just have an "off" year?

I'm about tempted to just cut these things out and use the space to grow more hot peppers, as this has been very disappointing! ...I mean, what can you really do with an ounce of hops?

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Old 08-30-2013, 05:22 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Whippy View Post

As I understand that others in my area are able to harvest much more than this, I am wanting to ask for advice as to what I might do different to get more hops?




I'm about tempted to just cut these things out and use the space to grow more hot peppers, as this has been very disappointing! ...I mean, what can you really do with an ounce of hops?
Believe it or not, but sometimes folks like to stretch the truth about matters like this. Not saying that this is the situation in your case, but just an observation.


Growing peppers may be a very valid option. I would love nothing more than to go out into the banana patch every morning and pick a fresh one to chop up on my oatmeal, but bananas don't grow too well in Ohio so I have to settle for some dried grapes. Your location for growing hops is not the best for a number of reasons so you can expect poorer yields than folks growing in parts of the country better suited for hops. Many varieties don't perform as well as others in the same growing situation so you may want to try some other varieties and see what happens. Also, one of the biggest variables that I've noticed is one that we really can't see, what goes on in the soil. Understand that hops root systems can penetrate very deeply (at least 10 feet or more under ideal soil conditions) so you can amend the top foot or three of soil with some nice stuff but what happens to the plants when the roots grow beyond that nice stuff? What do they run into, rock, clay, sand, etc. etc.? Amending the soil down as far as you can will help, and is encouraged, but what those roots encounter down deeper will have a much bigger impact.

Personally, I'd grow more peppers and ask your friends to share some of their bounty with you. Have a great holiday.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:56 PM   #3
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Agree with B-hoppy. You are just a bit too far south. I would bet even your friends with the big harvest weren't getting a pound or more like we do up north.

First, when the first flush comes, chop it off. In fact keep chopping them off until mid-March. Then the growing period will be closer to what we have up here.

Then train only 3 or 4 bines and cut the rest off. The extras lead to more vegetative growth and less cones.

I'm guessing you didn't have many side arms and that you harvested in June or July? That's because of the early start they got and the warmer weather caused them to start cones before the side arms arrived. That significantly hurts your yield, too.

I would set up a hops for peppers trade but my stomach gets upset at anything beyond jalapeno.

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Old 08-30-2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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I appreciate your thoughts very much, B-Hoppy.

I certainly do NOT have the best soil in my area, but did dig large holes under the hills before I planted and filled them with better soil. In all likelyhood, I did not dig deep or wide enough with these holes. I went about 2.5 feet diameter, I guess, by about 2 feet deep...everything around that is clay-like and mostly worthless for growing. Had I done proper research before planting, I would have probably known to dig more

I'll probably do some digging around my hop hills during the cooler months and try and improve the outer soil, give them another couple years and see how they do...after that, if I get similar results, I'll just give the plants away to someone else. It HAS been fun to grow the hops, and brewing with homegrown hops has a nice "cool" factor to it, so no regrets other than the expense of the trellis...just wish I had enough hops for at least ONE good batch of beer LOL

My jalepenos, thai, and habeneros are in pots and LOVE South Carolina...and I love the salsa and sauce they make for me...so if I HAVE to grow more of them, it won't be a sad day really. I'll have to start trading hot sauce for hops with my northern friends!

EDIT: Thank you too, Dan. I will try your tips, as they make very good sense! My hops started climbing in early February, already! I thought that would have been a good thing, so it's nice to know another approach now!

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