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Old 06-27-2011, 05:29 PM   #1
ctheis
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Default Why Cut Hops Back

I have heard this from a number of hop growers on this forum and other documents and other research and for a while have followed this practice...however there really seems to be no reason for this other than harvest timing.

This year after transplanting about 300 plants and trying some new practices we seemed to have eggagerated an effect that I thought may be the reason for the "CUTTING BACK" theory. I say theory because after 7 other farms besides mine did the cutting back thing...we have all gotten the same results - More uniform growth but no discernable increase in yield. If the idea behind cutting the early growth back is to increase yield this simply does not work here in the mid atlantic region.

So I will pose this question - Why cut back the early growth? If the answer is to control harvest timing - I can see this and its undestandable.

If the answer is to increase yield - could you be more specific in the "CUTTING BACK" process. Because so far no one that I have spoken to sees any increase in yield due to simply cutting back the early growth.

Our eggagerated effects are as follows - I set up new beds and transplanted all but a few nuggets to the new beds. Each bed is 15' x 27 ' and hold a max of 45 plants all strung to a central 18' pole in the center - ie a "maypole" design. The beds have been excavated down to 2.5 ft and PH was adjusted and runs 6.7 @ 2.5 ' to 7 @ 6" -PH is consistent throughout the soil profile between those numbers. The beds have been covered with 6 mil Black Plastic and then covered with mulch with holes allowing the plants to come through.

The big effect was that all the growth that came through were shoots directly off the crown...ok so we strung the most vigourous shoots and up the string they went...for a while...we then noticed that new rhizome growth had protruded from the edges of the beds and they looked very strong so we strung those. This has happened across all varieites whether transplanted this year or not. All the shoots we trained that were directly from the crown are by far the weakest and all the growth that had protruded from under the plastic ar by far the strongest. The difference is quite noticeable even to someone that has never seen hops before.

So it would seem that one should only string those shoots that are new rhizome growth and not string any shoots that are directly coming from the crown -hence "cutting back the early growth" as the earliest of growth are shoots coming directly from the crown...after a couple weeks or so the new rhizome growth starts emerging.

I had never noticed this before as this year is our first year using black plastic to help control weeds. So it got me to thinking again about the cutting back method that had been suggested. Its clear now that all the bines directly from the crown are not going to produce well and those that grew under and out of the plastic are going to be massive producers in contrast.

Its also well understood that since most all the plants were transplanted that any growth from the crown (they were transplanted from Feb to May) will be weak as the root system is damaged from the transplanting - hence the eggaerated effect. I would have blamed the effect on the transplanting but for the non transplanted 3rd year nuggets that are doing the same thing and we are getting the same effect - the new rhizome growth seems to be much more vigourous than the shoots directly off the crown.

So I am looking for some clarification as to why some hop farmers cut back the early growth. Is the above the reason?

It would seem that by cutting back the early growth you give the new rhyzome growth time to emerge and be strung vs the early growth from the crown which may in fact be weaker?

Any clarification would be much appreciated.

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Old 06-27-2011, 05:39 PM   #2
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Everything I have seen speaks to harvest timing: making sure the cones develop and mature during the peak parts of the season as far as light, heat and water. Personally, after seeing more than one person's plants, all treated differently, I don't see the need. Next year, I won't be cutting back my plants after the last frost.

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Old 06-27-2011, 06:09 PM   #3
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I have no idea what it would be for your region but it's done here in Washington in order to maximize lupulin and AA as much as possible.

Another ...and maybe more important reason is that cutting back is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of damage from powdery (and downy?) mildews.

A good read:
http://www.msue.msu.edu/objects/content_revision/download.cfm/revision_id.552828/workspace_id.27753/Hops-Diseases%20of%20Hops:%20Identification%20and%20Man agement.pdf/

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Old 06-27-2011, 06:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rniles View Post
I have no idea what it would be for your region but it's done here in Washington in order to maximize lupulin and AA as much as possible.

Another ...and maybe more important reason is that cutting back is one of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of damage from powdery (and downy?) mildews.
Thats the first I have ever heard of that. Do you have any links or other info on this? I would be very interested to see exactly how cutting back the early growth affects lupulin production and AA %.
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Old 06-27-2011, 07:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctheis View Post
Thats the first I have ever heard of that. Do you have any links or other info on this? I would be very interested to see exactly how cutting back the early growth affects lupulin production and AA %.

http://journals.uzpi.cz/publicFiles/02771.pdf
("Pruning term influenced alpha-bitter acids yield and dynamics of their formation" (read whole document)

http://www.ipmcenters.org/pmsp/pdf/OR-WA-IDhopsPMSP.pdf
(see pg 31)

http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/jason-perrault-transcript.pdf
(read page 5 where is start with: "We will start out with pruning"

http://www.agr.unizg.hr/smotra/pdf_69/acs69_09.pdf
(pruning in general with temperature differences)

I might have more documents but I would have to dig for them.

(not early pruning precisely but show impact on weather on aa content which can be used in part to decide pruning/training dates for a specific region / variety)
http://www.balwois.com/balwois/administration/full_paper/ffp-1920.pdf
Modelling of Quality Prediction for Hops (Humulus lupulus L.) in
Relation to Meteorological Variables
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:15 PM   #6
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This is an interesting post. I always considered pruning to be more of a timing thing, as compared to higher AA production. Next year, I am going to pay more attention to comparisons between shoots off the crown to ones off extending rhizomes. I generally look to thickness of the shoots and leaf spacing when selecting mine. I have found that the shoots with leaf nodes further apart tend to grow taller and faster...

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Old 06-28-2011, 04:09 PM   #7
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I cut back my homegrown hops to delay burr and cone growth till after the most vigorous aphid season is over. This allows me to hit them with whatever control method that I'm using at the time without fear of contaminating my cones. I get a lot of aphids in very late May to mid June. By July they are pretty much done as I start getting burrs. After that I don't use pesticides. I agree about the leaf spacing.

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Old 07-01-2011, 04:55 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ctheis View Post
The big effect was that all the growth that came through were shoots directly off the crown...ok so we strung the most vigourous shoots and up the string they went...for a while...we then noticed that new rhizome growth had protruded from the edges of the beds and they looked very strong so we strung those. This has happened across all varieites whether transplanted this year or not. All the shoots we trained that were directly from the crown are by far the weakest and all the growth that had protruded from under the plastic ar by far the strongest. The difference is quite noticeable even to someone that has never seen hops before.
ctheis,

Finally got around to reading your research effort synopsis and I think you may have answered your own question.

I would surmise that you do some sort of 'pruning' to keep your plants from spreading too much. If that is so, you should have some pretty well behaved crowns. On crowns that have been pruned of stray rhizomes there are still plenty of buds left on the crown that will send up new growth. The ones closer to the surface will obviously come up first and the deeper ones will emerge later. If you put a barrier around the crown (like you say you did), the deeper buds will try to send up shoots but will run into the barrier and travel the path of least resistance which would probably be the ones that squirted out of the ends of your barrier. This "second growth" is what the hop producers use to produce their crop. I knock the first growth off because I'm usually pretty busy at that time of the year and sometimes have to whack off the second round of growth until I have time to train them.

Like I said, if you prune up your crowns in the early spring (late winter in your case) your research answered your question. If you don't prune your crowns . . . well, forget what I just said in my reply and keep on keepin' on!
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