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Old 10-15-2012, 08:53 PM   #1
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Default Wild plants?

Hi, I used to have a bunch of wild hops growing on a fence before I started brewing but we tore a lot of them out. In late August I couldn't find any cones but didn't check after that. Could they eventually just stop producing from age? Should I dig up some rhizomes and replant them and give them a fresh start? The reason why I'm interested is the house is colonial age and built by the family of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. But it could a totally wild plant or have been planted subsequently. That would be some awesome history behind a brew!

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Old 10-15-2012, 11:28 PM   #2
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It's unlikely that the plants go back that far, but they could easily be descendents of the originals. The oldest plants I've heard of were about 50 years old. My neighbor has plants on his property that go back to the mid-1800s when his great-great grandfather was a hop farmer. But, again, I suspect they are descendents.

Most likely the plants didn't get enough nutrients. Hops are heavy feeders. It wouldn't hurt to dig them up, break off chunks about the size of your head and replant. Put 3-4" of composted manure over the bed and plan on a crop next year.

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Old 10-16-2012, 12:11 PM   #3
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Alright will try this weekend before the frost!

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Old 10-16-2012, 04:12 PM   #4
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I agree with David's answer. The crown will only live 35 to 50 years, but the rhizomes will make sure something stays in that general area. So they could be a mutated/feral version of whatever was planted there years ago. I also agree that they probably didn't produce due to lack of nutrients, trauma, lack of water, etc. If you are nice to them, something will pop up next year.

Before you do brew with them, make a little hop tea to see what the flavor would be like. I've found some feral hops before that I wouldn't use in any style of beer.

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Old 10-16-2012, 04:47 PM   #5
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Cool, maybe they will get a second life. They probably do not date back to the Revolution but it makes for an awesome story

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Old 10-16-2012, 05:03 PM   #6
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Could be, you never know.

Around here, there are several areas with feral varieties that probably date back to just after the Civil War when Wisconsin was covered in hops. But often the more likely scenario is that they were planted during prohibition because in order for a farmer to get a large crew out to harvest, he had to provide more than just a cool glass of water. So every farm wife would plant some hops to provide a bit of shade to her garden...even though they were often on the north side of the garden.

I would go with your original story, just start it with, "I'm not 100% certain but..."

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