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Hop Growing in Pennsylvania

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SteveM

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Well with $12 worth of hops in my current five gallon batch (now boiling), I am looking at growing my own. There is an extensive thread about this but in looking it over, I did not see anything about middle-Atlantic states and what hops might prosper there.

It seems like they do best in cooler climates like New England and the Pacific Northwest. All the readings I've done points to this and, well, that's where the commercial ones mostly come from.

I've had beers made by people who grew their own and frankly they were brutal. It's possible, of course, that they had poor growing and handling techniques and]or inappropriate conditions, and in theory at least I can avoid these (I have a great spot, sunny and well drained, and with all the information around, there seems to be no excuse for poor technique).

But I am wondering if any varieties are known to grow better in warmer areas like Pennsylvania. Has anyone had any success in growing hops in Pennsylvania? If so, do the varieties matter? I was thinking of trying for one flavor and one aroma hop.

Your thoughts and comments are invited! Thanks!
 

tbone

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(Western PA) I really don't know anything about growing them but!! A block from where I live in the community center playground there is a 50' section of cyclone fencing that is full of hop vines and hops. I have no idea how they got there or what kind they are. I would love to find out.
 

sleepystevenson

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I am in western PA, between Pittsburgh and Erie. No experience with hop growing here....yet! This year, I am definitely going for it. Have a great spot, fencing to grow on, etc. From what I have read, the hops should do fine around here. And probably in your part of PA, as well.
 

pjj2ba

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The biggest concern with East coast hop gowing is too much humidty and water - sort of. Hops are prone to a number of diseases that need high humidity and/or plenty of rain to gain a foothold. It is my understanding that much of the Western hop farms are irrigated so the farmer has great control of the conditions that promote disease. We here are the East coast don't have that luxury.

When planting your hops you want a location that provides as much sunshine as possible and also has good air movement. After a rain, you want your plants to dry out as quickly as possible. Stagnant, humid air leads to disease. Another thing you can do is to trim up the bottom 3 ft of the plants, removing a bunch of extra leaves to promote good air movement around the base of the plant.

I had great plants this year, but with that hot dry spell we had in August, my hop cones went from mature to brown toast within a week when I didn't have time to do any harvesting:(
 

freyguy

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I had luck in DE with my Liberty and Goldings plants. They aren't even supposed to do that well in this area, but the first year they grew to about 12ft high, but hardly any cones. The second year we were selling the house and kept them trimmed down, but they were growing like crazy! I used a combination of manure mixed in the soil, and miracle grow the first year. I hear miracle grow can impair their "taste", but I figured the first year I wouldn't be harvesting and I was trying to establish a good root base.
 

Evets

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I had good results from cascade and nugget last year on second year plants. My hallertau and willamette have yet to produce annything worthwhile. This year I'm putting in more cascades, fuggles, kent goldings and sterling.
 

Aspera

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My neighbor grows hops, and they seem to do very well in SE PA. I see wild hops everywhere and the cultivated ones are very prolific. I'm told that we don't get quite the AA content of the Pacific NW, but the hops smelled O.K.
 

roggae

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i grew hops in harrisburg. i did have issues with mold and bugs, but a little neem oil did the trick.

pm me with any specific questions about growing
 
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SteveM

SteveM

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Thanks all! Great info and very encouraging.

My LHBS guy advises that my choices of types might be somewhat limited, but if I can get my hands on some Cascade rhizomes and get them to grow, that would be great. Amarillo would really be my first choice - I will ask him about both of those.
 

mrbowenz

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I grew some with good success ;EKG, Chinook, and Fuggles, checking the soil pH is the key, don't over water them and plenty of sunlight with some general wide band fetilizer worked well here just to your north, here are some shots from this past summer and fall harvest:




 

Bob

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Historically, the first area to see large-scale commercial hops farming was upstate NY, in the Hudson River valley and west. Before that, settlers found hops growing wild and used them if hops imported from Europe were unavailable.

That is to say that yes, hops can grow in the Mid-Atlantic states quite well. As well as the Willamette valley? Nope. But pretty nicely nevertheless. I'm going to plant some this spring, I think.

Cheers,

Bob
 

SixFoFalcon

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I'm thinking about starting some Sterling, Goldings, and one of the C-hops (probably Cascade or Centennial). I need some shade in the back yard anyway. :D Looks like I'm going to have to wait until late March to see what's available.
 

brewt00l

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Nice pictures...looks like I have to keep my eyes open and on the look out for some hops next time I drive through Bethlehem. ;)
 

chillHayze

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sleepystevenson said:
I am in western PA, between Pittsburgh and Erie. No experience with hop growing here....yet! This year, I am definitely going for it. Have a great spot, fencing to grow on, etc. From what I have read, the hops should do fine around here. And probably in your part of PA, as well.
Dude, that's where I grew up. Mercer PA. Even knew a Stevenson come to think of it! Never grew hops there but a certain other cousin of hops has been known to thrive in the many acres of wilderness if given enough sun. Never needed a fence for those though...
:drunk:
 

sleepystevenson

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chillHayze, I am from West Middlesex, PA - a stone's throw from Mercer! I know just what cousin to which you refer....

refer....gotta watch which syllable you accent there...hehe


Although my name isn't stevenson....
Anyway, small world, eh?
 

jldesign

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edinboro PA just south of erie. grew cascade, saaz, crystal and liberty for 4 years. the cascade and crystal are the only ones to produce anything.

had to move the cascade came with me ;-) new location and actual planned out growing area I hope to do better this year.

BTW they were all in 5-10 gallon pots the whole time on a patio. I'd only get about 2-3 ounces of cascade & crystal a year but they were good dryhoppers :tank:
 

balto charlie

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pjj2ba said:
The biggest concern with East coast hop gowing is too much humidty and water - sort of. Hops are prone to a number of diseases that need high humidity and/or plenty of rain to gain a foothold. It is my understanding that much of the Western hop farms are irrigated so the farmer has great control of the conditions that promote disease. We here are the East coast don't have that luxury.

When planting your hops you want a location that provides as much sunshine as possible and also has good air movement. After a rain, you want your plants to dry out as quickly as possible. Stagnant, humid air leads to disease. Another thing you can do is to trim up the bottom 3 ft of the plants, removing a bunch of extra leaves to promote good air movement around the base of the plant.

I had great plants this year, but with that hot dry spell we had in August, my hop cones went from mature to brown toast within a week when I didn't have time to do any harvesting:(
What plants did you grow?? Thanks Charlie
 

pjj2ba

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I've got Cascade, Fuggle, Glacier, Liberty, Sterling and Tettnang. This past year was just rotten timing for my hops. It got very hot and dry for us right as the cones were maturing and I was very busy and couldn't harvest them.:( This was their second year. The first year I got a nice little harvest with no problems.
 

sleepystevenson

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ChillHayze -
Not really into kayaking, but have been known to take a lazy canoe trip down the (not-so) mighty Shenango river with some homebrews!
 

tbone

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Kayaking down the Shenendoah for Smallmouth with some good beer and two guys that love good beer just brought a big smile to my face.
 

seethe303

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chillHayze said:
Small world indeed.

I don't suppose you like kayaking?

do ya Kayak around the columbus area?

I love to fish, and have thought about getting a kayak.

anyway, to keep this thread on topic: someday, I wish to grow hops in central ohio. :drunk:
 

chillHayze

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seethe303 said:
do ya Kayak around the columbus area?

I love to fish, and have thought about getting a kayak.

anyway, to keep this thread on topic: someday, I wish to grow hops in central ohio. :drunk:
Still getting settled in, but soon I will bring the yak down from my parents place in PA. There are a lot of options when considering a boat. Check out www.paddling.net and/or PM me. It would be awesome to have a fishin/homebrew/boating buddy in the area!
 

menschmaschine

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freyguy said:
I had luck in DE with my Liberty and Goldings plants. They aren't even supposed to do that well in this area, but the first year they grew to about 12ft high, but hardly any cones. The second year we were selling the house and kept them trimmed down, but they were growing like crazy! I used a combination of manure mixed in the soil, and miracle grow the first year. I hear miracle grow can impair their "taste", but I figured the first year I wouldn't be harvesting and I was trying to establish a good root base.
That's encouraging for me. I'm planning on growing some this year too here in DE. I'm just going to go for it, take as best care with them as possible, and see what happens!
 

invisible76

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I am in southern NJ and looking to plant. Is it too late for this year? Where can I get rhizomes or already sprouted vines?
 
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SteveM

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A local LHBS probably will no longer have them, if they work the way mine does, where you have to order in advance. Besides buying some retail, I got some here: http://www.thymegarden.com/

They might still have some. I doubt that it is too late to plant, but I'm not the expert.
 

morrighu

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You can always visit the hop growers wiki - http://www.utrabrew.net/hopwiki. It's a fairly large active community dedicated to growing hops. I know that they've been really helpful to us. We're in Texas, another place not traditionally known for growing hops.

HTH,

M.
 

SixFoFalcon

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I has forgotten about this thread! Almost 4 years ago I planted Cascade, Centennial, Goldings, and Nugget. I don't remember if it was draught or insane amounts of rain, but that first year was a really tough year for crops. The Goldings never really took off. The Nuggets started out well, but then basically died off before flowering. The Cascades and Centennials were strong from the start despite the poor conditions.

Second year, the Centennials just didn't come back, or maybe they came back but were really weak, I don't fully remember.

The Cascades are still kicking ass even though I don't do much for them. I just cut them back in the fall, top dress the area with compost, then more compost in spring and give them a trellis to climb.
 

gavball6

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I has forgotten about this thread! Almost 4 years ago I planted Cascade, Centennial, Goldings, and Nugget. I don't remember if it was draught or insane amounts of rain, but that first year was a really tough year for crops. The Goldings never really took off. The Nuggets started out well, but then basically died off before flowering. The Cascades and Centennials were strong from the start despite the poor conditions.

Second year, the Centennials just didn't come back, or maybe they came back but were really weak, I don't fully remember.

The Cascades are still kicking ass even though I don't do much for them. I just cut them back in the fall, top dress the area with compost, then more compost in spring and give them a trellis to climb.
I am about to order three crowns to plant in SE PA this year... I think I am going to go with Cascade, Centennial and Perle.

SixFoFalcon,
How tall a trellis are you using? Are you pretty much letting them do their thing without any training ropes?
 

SixFoFalcon

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I'm on my third iteration of a trellis, and this one's a keeper. It's probably about 15' high and the hops would love to go at least another 5' if I had the room.

The trellis consists of one telescoping aluminum support, with about a 4' length of square aluminum tubing mounted horizontally at the top. I run 6 or 8 lengths of bailing twine from the top support down to one of those corkscrew dog leash anchors which is about 1' in front of where the hop bines emerge. Once the bines get about 3' long I'll get them started training up the twine and the rest is up to mother nature.

I'll try to remember get some pics this spring when I set it up.
 

WissahickonBrew

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It's April and my 3 hops vines are almost 12" long! I have a 16' tower erected for the twine and have begun twirling. I am in Philadelphia. How are yours doing?
 

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My two cascades did decent last season for their first year. I had them in pots and they were limited in how high I was able to let them grow. This season I moved them to South Jersey and repotted them in much larger pots. I was actually able to cut a new rhizome off the one so I'm up to three. This year they will have plenty of room to grow with about 20 feet of twine to grow up.
From what I'm told they were at about 6 inches earlier this week and about to be started up the twine.
 

WissahickonBrew

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Do you have them in pots in order to keep them portable? Mine are in the garden next to my veggies. This is my second growing season too and they are WAY ahead of last year at the same time. I'm growing Perle, Cascade and Centennial.

My two cascades did decent last season for their first year. I had them in pots and they were limited in how high I was able to let them grow. This season I moved them to South Jersey and repotted them in much larger pots. I was actually able to cut a new rhizome off the one so I'm up to three. This year they will have plenty of room to grow with about 20 feet of twine to grow up.
From what I'm told they were at about 6 inches earlier this week and about to be started up the twine.
 

ffaoe

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Yes, I kept them potted. The new pots are much bigger this year, about 4 or 5 gallons in volume. I'd definitely prefer to care for them myself this year but where I'm living now I really didn't have any good space to grow them last year. They have plenty of room to grow where they are at now.
 

HALIFAXHOPS

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Most of mine are around 12" and going. The cascade are 5 yrs and the rest 2-3 yrs. I am way behind on the field this year. Need to get the twine up this week. If anyone needs rhizomes still have alot of them yet to be dug.
 

WissahickonBrew

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I have room for 1 or 2 more plants, what varieties do you have?

On a gardening note: I heavily mulched the garden with fall leaves over the winter and dumped ashes from the wood burning stove all winter. I uncovered the shoots when I suspected there might be some growth and they took off like crazy. I worked a ring of hummus/manure around each plant and they seem be enjoying it immensely. I was concerned with applying a chemical fertilizer for fear of salt burns. Otherwise the hops are enjoying several years of soil conditioning from my tomato, pepper and eggplant gardening. :mug:

Most of mine are around 12" and going. The cascade are 5 yrs and the rest 2-3 yrs. I am way behind on the field this year. Need to get the twine up this week. If anyone needs rhizomes still have alot of them yet to be dug.
 

HALIFAXHOPS

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Here is what I still have. I am asking 3 ea and 5.35 for shipping 15 for 5.85. Cascade I will do 4 for 10 due to how may I have.
Here is a list of what I do have now. Pm me with want
.
CASCADE
CENTENNIAL
COLUMBUS
FUGGLE
GLACIER
GOLDINGS
HALLERTAU (US)
MAGNUM
TETTNANG
WILLAMETTE
NUGGETT
 
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