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Old 05-29-2009, 10:56 PM   #1
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Default Bud/end nipping technique for bushy growth?

My father whom ran a nursery for 17+ years and has the greenest thumbs of anyone I know suggested we might "pinch the ends/new growth" off of the tips of my bines. In most plants this will cause further branching out/bushing.

My question does anyone partake of this exercise?

Also I'm experimenting with my hop plants this year. I'm snipping some down to 6 or 7 runners and letting others grow as they will. We've all heard that snipping them will increase production in those few runners, but my father questions this. His belief is the bushier it is, the better, which is generally correct when dealing with plants. So what is yall's experience with these processes, clip or don't?

Schlante,
Phillip


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Old 05-29-2009, 11:26 PM   #2
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I have limited experience with hops, but have found that bushier is probably not better. We're not dealing with tomatoes or basil here- the hops grow at the very top of the bine. If you pinch off a bine, that bine won't produce. I've had a few broken in windstorms, and they don't regrow.

I'm hesitant to prune down to 4 bines for just that reason, but I think keeping 6 will be best for me.


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Old 05-29-2009, 11:28 PM   #3
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I've broken off a couple on mistake and it does seem to make the side runners (that were already there) grow faster. Probably because that is the end of the bine, it nowhere else to go?
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Old 05-30-2009, 05:27 PM   #4
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The tip of the plant is where the meristematic cells are and has apical dominance over any other areas of growth on the plant. If you take away this area, the rest of the plant gets more energy and will grow instead. I don't have much experience with hops (my first year growing) but I have a bunch of experience with other plants where training can easily double the yield. I have a plant I received from my school (Horticulture program, we have 5 types of hops growing) thats in a container on my balcony. I topped a few of the tips a week ago and already have a bunch of new ones climbing up the trellis. We'll see if this affects its flowering!
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Old 05-30-2009, 07:45 PM   #5
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My thoughts with nothing other than experience to back it up:

The thinking behind not topping has to due with where we want the "energy" of the plant being directed. We want roots, we want vertical growth for more leaf pairs and sidearms(which is where the flowers grow) and most importantly we want flowers. If you top too early the sidearms explode out top to bottom and make a bush. The energy to grow out massive sidearms takes away from the root and flower production. Not to mention the haven for bugs this would create. A few years back I wasn't brewing and let my Cascade grow every shoot that came up. I only needed a six foot tomato trellis to contain it and cone production was very poor.

Commercial hop farms build some very specialized equipment to deal with the unique nature of this plant. If they could get a better yield from a shorter, bushier plant I'm sure that they would do it.
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Old 05-30-2009, 08:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by COLObrewer View Post
I've broken off a couple on mistake and it does seem to make the side runners (that were already there) grow faster. Probably because that is the end of the bine, it nowhere else to go?
This has been my experience also from when some of my tips broke off when I transplanted my hops to a new trellis this spring, and is what my father is thinking. This is common practice with most "running" plants. I don't think one needs to nip the ends of all runners, but nipping of ends of new shoots will provide more side runners. This should be done to young hops. No matter, we'll see.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jake777 View Post
The tip of the plant is where the meristematic cells are and has apical dominance over any other areas of growth on the plant. If you take away this area, the rest of the plant gets more energy and will grow instead. I don't have much experience with hops (my first year growing) but I have a bunch of experience with other plants where training can easily double the yield. I have a plant I received from my school (Horticulture program, we have 5 types of hops growing) thats in a container on my balcony. I topped a few of the tips a week ago and already have a bunch of new ones climbing up the trellis. We'll see if this affects its flowering!
This is exactly my fathers experience. For instance this works great on climbing pea vareties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuinrearview View Post
My thoughts with nothing other than experience to back it up:

The thinking behind not topping has to due with where we want the "energy" of the plant being directed. We want roots, we want vertical growth for more leaf pairs and sidearms(which is where the flowers grow) and most importantly we want flowers. If you top too early the sidearms explode out top to bottom and make a bush. The energy to grow out massive sidearms takes away from the root and flower production. Not to mention the haven for bugs this would create. A few years back I wasn't brewing and let my Cascade grow every shoot that came up. I only needed a six foot tomato trellis to contain it and cone production was very poor.

Commercial hop farms build some very specialized equipment to deal with the unique nature of this plant. If they could get a better yield from a shorter, bushier plant I'm sure that they would do it.
I think it really comes down to having your hops grow high and bushy. Essentially providing sufficient nutrients, water, sun, etc. to stimulate robust growth. I think if this is done the tip nipping could be an effective process. But if this isn't the case you're probably right that one might get a low bushy hop plant with small-moderate yield when compared to the plant's true potential.

Schlante & thanks for the feedback, still hoping someone has some real life experience with this process.

Phillip
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Old 05-30-2009, 09:43 PM   #7
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I have only grown hops for a couple years, but believe there is no reason to remove the tips to promote bushiness. Once you remove the tips the bine will produce side arms that are possibly a little longer than normal but don't climb again to proper height. Experience with accidental mower pinching has tought me this.

The only reason I could see for tip pinching would be at or near the top of your trellis(usually shorter than commercial systems) to terminate vertical growth and initiate sidearm production and subsequent flowering. I could imagine you could get an earlier, yet slightly reduced yield by doing this. Maybe if you lived in an area with a real long summer, you could get two harvests, but I would suppose they would remain dormant after the first one. Hmmm...anybody know?
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Old 05-31-2009, 01:31 PM   #8
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Bushiness is a meaningless concept for hops. Trimming as your father suggests is valuable for indeterminate plants. Hop sidearm growth follows rigid patterns and as YB says, the vast majority of the cones form at the top.

Here's what an untrimmed and very health Cascades field looks like. Tiffany provided for scale:

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Old 05-31-2009, 03:06 PM   #9
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On my Chinook shoots, something ate the top out of them at about 2" tall, and, as everyone has said, they have bushed out, however, are growing very well. Now, instead of 2 shoots I have 6 or 7. I'll post how well they do. These are 1st year hop bines, by the way. Sorry no pics... yet.
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Old 05-31-2009, 08:44 PM   #10
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You don't have to grow them like a hop farm. A hop farm grows that way to match the type of harvest they use. they want all cones to be ripe at the same time,and can harvest entire field at one time. A bushy plant will have ripe cones on the older vine while the younger vine will still have fuzzy burs forming. thier is no way a hop farm can grow this way. but you can,and I do. I get a butt load of hops off mine,but Its a pick some today,pick some more in a few days, type of harvest. This works great for me,but I grow on a horizontal line that I can reach.


on edit: I dont pinch off the tips.



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