• We have a new forum and it needs your help! Homebrewing Deals is a forum to post whatever deals and specials you find that other homebrewers might value! Includes coupon layering, Craigslist finds, eBay finds, Amazon specials, etc.

I just realized my hops bines are likely bull shoots. They're almost 10ft tall already. Should I cut them back?

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Convergence

Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
3
My hops (in their 6th year) are going bonkers, growing about 9 inches per day. They're almost to the top of my ten foot trellis.

But I just learned about bull shoots, and I'm fairly certain most of my bines are bulls.
IMG_20200521_062243.jpg
Should I chop them all to the ground and let the secondary growth come in? I'm worried I waited too long to cut them back. Should I roll with my bulls or go for the secondary growth? For the record, they seem to be doing great and are pushing out plenty of nodes. I also plan to trellis them sideways across my garden once they get to ten ft, which I thought would be a pretty sight to see. Input greatly appreciated!
 

Beerisgud

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2020
Messages
65
Reaction score
44
I just started my hop garden this year and I’ve seen that first year is the only year you train bull shoots, after that it’s a full prune late winter/early spring, then final prune when selecting best bines for training. How were the harvests for the past five years not cutting bull shoots? I’ve been told they produce less and are more prone to breakage in storms from being hollow. I would think now is the time to decide to cut or leave them. If they are 6 year plants they will have no problem bouncing back from here on out. Lots of people just let their hops grow wild but the pruning, selecting and training promote more flowering.
 

Hoppy2bmerry

My hop trellis brings the boys to the yard.
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 10, 2015
Messages
7,121
Reaction score
12,008
Location
Long Island
I think the answer depends on your location and growing season. Bull shoots will still produce for you but a lower yield.
Oh, and welcome to the forum.
 
OP
C

Convergence

Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
3
I just started my hop garden this year and I’ve seen that first year is the only year you train bull shoots, after that it’s a full prune late winter/early spring, then final prune when selecting best bines for training. How were the harvests for the past five years not cutting bull shoots? I’ve been told they produce less and are more prone to breakage in storms from being hollow. I would think now is the time to decide to cut or leave them. If they are 6 year plants they will have no problem bouncing back from here on out. Lots of people just let their hops grow wild but the pruning, selecting and training promote more flowering.
I've never properly trained or pruned them, embarrassingly enough. Never had the trellis for it. It's hard to think about cutting down a bind that's already 10 ft tall oh, but you think it's still the way to go to get the best harvest?
 

Leezer

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Dec 18, 2014
Messages
362
Reaction score
176
Welcome! I’m in MA and just cut mine back 5 days ago. Mine had only gotten a few feet high so far. I’ve cut back this late before and still had lots of growth afterwards so I’m hoping for that again. We’ve had a lot of cool rainy weather, they should take off once we get to a more sunny warm pattern.
 

Kaz15

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2019
Messages
93
Reaction score
30
For me, it's hard to really say whether they are bulls or not from the picture. Personally I'd just let it roll. Chopping it down may work out fine, but it sounds like unnecessary stress. BTW I also live in Colorado; south metro Denver. You never know, we could get a nasty hail storm in the next month and the decision to start over will be made for you. ;-) Anyway, I say let it grow as is!

Regarding lower yield... what variety is it? In years past, my mature Cascade plant has produced more cones than I'm capable of harvesting or using. So perhaps a lower yield is no biggie!
 

WestMichBrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2016
Messages
266
Reaction score
65
Location
Grand Rapids
I have two hop plants in pots that I started last spring. In the fall I cut them back and moved the pots into the garage for the winter.
Earlier this spring while still in the garage and too early to bring outside, I found a few shoots on both plants so I cut them down. A little later I found a few more and cut them down too. Now I have moved them outside and they are growing quite differently. The Centennial has maybe 12 or so shoots growing quickly, the Liberty has much less growth but they all look like more stout shoots. I don't recall the two plants looking this different last year, they both looked more like the Centennial.

1590151212144.png

1590151251864.png


I'm thinking maybe the Liberty's fat shoots are still bulls, even after cutting both plants back earlier, but looking for any insight you all might have.

Thanks in advance!
 

Kaz15

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2019
Messages
93
Reaction score
30
It’s interesting you bring this up. Because my second year plants also looked like that after I cut the first shoots back. The second wave of growth looked weird. Just like that second picture you posted. All I can say is that they are 7-8’ tall now and are looking completely normal. The first foot of growth was odd, but now they look like they did last year.

I’ve scoured the internet and seems like there’s not much detailed help out there for growing hops. I think we’re all trying to figure this out together.

Prost!
 

Kaz15

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2019
Messages
93
Reaction score
30
Just thought I’d share some pics as well. These two plants both looked very similar to yours at first. If you zoom in at the bottom of the plant for both pics you can see the leaves are smaller, pointier and kind of spiky. They’ve gotten more robust going up. And who knows, maybe these are bull shoots. Don’t really care to be honest. Next year, 3rd year, I’ll be a little more picky with the bines.
50AF678B-F46A-4B6F-93B6-D86448A2ADB4.jpeg
75CADCDC-D9B3-428F-955F-E5294D6BCC56.jpeg

Here’s the lower part of the plant. I’ve already started pruning the bottom leaves.
721C76F8-0C6D-4EB2-98A1-8E745E7E75AF.jpeg

Here are the upper leaves of the same plant.
50619624-022A-4E85-AABC-940CECD2C12C.jpeg

Hope that helps!
 
OP
C

Convergence

Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
3
Thanks for that! I'm going to prune the largest and leave the smaller ones and roll with that. Most are already to the top of the trellis! We'll see what happens.
 
OP
C

Convergence

Member
Joined
May 21, 2020
Messages
5
Reaction score
3
MVIMG_20200523_095811.jpg

I cut them down. I think it was the right call, as the secondary growth is already 6ft tall. Thanks for your guidance.
 

Saunassa

One Life Brewing - life's to short for crappy beer
Joined
May 22, 2018
Messages
559
Reaction score
360
Location
Minnesota Finnish territories
I cut back all bines on mine last week where if I grabbed the bine I had two fists spacing between leaf nodes. Is this good indicator I don't know but they were all hollow. New growth took off and is now a foot and a half high. By the way the early shoots from two weeks ago sure did taste good sauteed in butter.
 

WestMichBrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2016
Messages
266
Reaction score
65
Location
Grand Rapids
Mine went crazy while I was away this weekend. Long distances between leaf nodes seem to be the way to judge the bulls from the cows(?). I'll have another look later and do some pruning.
 
Top