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Is this normal for hops?

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cefmel

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I've noticed that when my hops begin to bud that the leaves always seem to suffer a little. The ends dry up and they don't look very healthy. Is this normal? has anyone else noticed this or do I have a problem. I live in the Chicago area and it gets pretty hot in the summer. The variety is Mt. Hood and I've been growing them for about 4 years and it's always the same. Strong healthy leaves in the spring and half dried up leaves by mid June.
 

denimglen

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Happened to my plants as well from the beginning. This is my first year though.

I thought I may have been over fertilising (was a little too happy adding 'worm-juice' from our worm farm) but I stopped and it didn't change, plant otherwise seems pretty healthy and got a lot of cones for the first year growth.

I don't know much about gardening but maybe it's the plant putting nutrients and water into the cones instead of leaves?
 

clemson55

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From my experience with a lot of different plants but not hops that sort of thing will happen when most plants produce flowers or fruit. Its just the added pressure of production on the plant. A little extra water can help, especially since its in the heat of the summer.
 

pjj2ba

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The only sure things are death and taxes - for plants too! Leaves also get old and die, and will give up their nutrients (taxes) to help out the new growth. As long as the new growth is vigorous and the leaves have a nice UNIFORM green color I wouldn't worry about it. If the new growth is a little pale and yellowish along the veins, they need some fertilizer.

Clemson55 is right. Developing flowers and fruits will "steal" nutrients from the leaves. Often at this point (for some plants) extra fertilizer won't really help. The plant has been busily storing up reserves and this is what they use for flower and fruit production, not any new nutrients they have just taken up from the soil. I don't know if this is also the case in hops.
 
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cefmel

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Thanks for the insight people. I was hoping this might be the case since I also had tried different things. The new growth is usually healthy so I'll just look at that as an indicator of the plants health. I was hoping that it wasn't because of the sometimes brutally hot summer months here in Northern Illinois.
 

david_42

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This could be nothing more than a lack of water. It's a good idea to water every day it doesn't rain. Seems excessive, but that's what it takes. Hops love hot, sunny weather (I was born in Crete, IL, so I know what you are experiencing), but they need as much water as blue grass.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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If you have the ability, set up a soaker hose on a timer. Early spring, I water for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on existing moisture) and late in the season during flowering I ramp that up to about 20-30 minutes (again depending on existing moisture).

This way they get a daily dose of water and with minimal effort on your part. It's easy to forget to water. Plus on a timer, it's a lot easier to get the water to the roots early in the morning. And with the soaker hose, there is no risk of getting the leaves damp.

But then again, on the flip side, over watering shows the same symptoms as underwatering. So be sure to check the soil regularly. I have a moisture meter that I picked up from a garden center. It seems to be pretty decent and allows me to probe to a depth of 6 inches to see how well the water is soaking in.
 

shafferpilot

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please don't fertilize with commercial chemicals while the plants are building buds!! You're going to be consuming that stuff, and it's nasty stuff. Use only organic fertilizer intended for food, compost that does NOT contain chemically treated material (ie grass clippings), manure, etc. Your standard Miracle Grow products are incredibly poisonous even after being processed by a plant. In a past life I had plenty of experience growing the dirty cousin of hops. Nothing tastes quite as nasty as fertilizer laden smoke!
 

pjj2ba

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shafferpilot said:
please don't fertilize with commercial chemicals while the plants are building buds!! You're going to be consuming that stuff, and it's nasty stuff. Use only organic fertilizer intended for food, compost that does NOT contain chemically treated material (ie grass clippings), manure, etc. Your standard Miracle Grow products are incredibly poisonous even after being processed by a plant. In a past life I had plenty of experience growing the dirty cousin of hops. Nothing tastes quite as nasty as fertilizer laden smoke!
Horse Hockey! The problems with Miracle Grow etc. is that they don't enrich the soil (may actually inhibit soil microbe diversity), they are more likely to lead to run off and can cause too vigorous growth. Also a lot of energy is required to make some of the components. They are not however toxic!!!!!!!! (unless you eat it directly) The big benefits or organic fertilizer is that they enrich the soil, they are slow release and are less prone to run off. BUT it contains exactly the same mineral nutrients (ions) as in Miracle Grow, just in a different formulation (free salts - ion pairs - versus ions bound to humus or as complex compounds that are processed by microbes to make the ion). They both contain nitrates, (and/or ammonia), phosphates and potassium. I guarantee you all of these are in both. Then there are the micronutrients, calcium, iron, magnesium, sulfur, boron, etc. which the better fertilizers will also have, again, these are also going to be present in your manure. If they are toxic in the Miracle grow, then they are also going to be toxic in the manure, etc.

I liken it to taking a pill (miracle grow) to get all the vitamins you need versus eating a balanced diet (manure) to get the nutrients you need. A balanced diet is the preferred way for our bodies to get the vitamins and minerals it needs, but taking a pill is better than not getting the nutrients. I personally prefer a balanced diet

There are lots of very good reasons for using organic methods over using inorganic fertilizers, but the imagined toxicity of Miracle grow etc. is not one of them.
 

CBBaron

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shafferpilot said:
ok....... still it tastes like $hit
Your not supposed to spray the stuff on your harvest :D
If applied to the soil around the plant I would be very surprised if there was any flavor in the plant. However it is possible that an organically grown plant will taste better due to that balanced diet thing.
My hops are at my parents house so I will have to see if I can steal some of their compost.
Craig
 

shafferpilot

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I really have no experience with hops specifically. But my experience definitely indicates that the standard commercial fertilizers certainly do impart a nasty taste to the dirty cousin. At the time, our solution was to switch to plain water as soon as fruit began to form, and the result was always great. You have to figure that anything you put in the soil will be present in the plant. If consuming fertilizer directly is bad, then consuming the fertilizer that is in the veins of the plant when harvest comes around can't be any safer. I realize the majority of the fertilizer has been processed by the plant cells by then, but there definitely are reminents in the veins. Healthy balanced soil is certainly the best answer, but fertilizer still has its place....... that place just isn't in the veins of a budding plant intended for consumption.
 

pjj2ba

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The reason consuming the fertilzer would be bad is the same reason why eating a tablespoon of table salt would not be good for you. It will throw your salt balance out of whack. The stuff in fertilizer is also found in most cells in your body - we just keep the levels very tightly regulated. Any reasonable amount of excess salts (or soluble vitamins) you eat quickly ends up in pipeline to the BMC brewery. Too much of any salt, including table salt, can mess your body up.

I'm not sure why your crop tasted so bad. One problem for farmers is under drought conditions a number of forage crops can accumulate nitrate to levels that can make animals sick. So if you fertilized and then let the plants get too dry maybe this was the problem. This can also occur under organic growing conditions.
 

shafferpilot

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I see. So what would be the makeup of the ideal soil conditions for hop growth? And if those ideal conditions were created/maintained would fertilizer be necessary at all?
 

pjj2ba

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I would think a nice sandy loam with a good top dressing of manure would be ideal. Hops like a lot of water but don't like having their toes wet, so you ideally don't want a lot of clay or too much humus that is going to keep the soil too moist. My soil is pretty heavy clay so when I dug my bed up I worked in a bunch of sand to improve drainage. You can also use perlite or vermiculite to lighten the soil and improve drainage. You don't want to add a whole bunch of peat moss as it tends to hang onto water pretty well. Some is definitely good, but one could overdo it.

You'll probably still need to fertilize some how, at least at the beginning of the season. When you remove the bines in the winter, you are also taking away all of the mineral nutrients in the bines that were taken up from the soil. That amount will need to be replaced. In the wild, the vines would just decay right there and return the nutrients to the soil (plus the bonus carbon assimilated from the air - ie. organic mater). This is also one reason why I use a mulching mower. I return most of the nutrients back to the soil rather than harvesting them, er, bagging them. If you remove the clippings, then you will have to fertilize your lawn more often. I fertilize my hop plants with yeast cake.
 

zoebisch01

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The real problem with commercial fertilizer is not really with the fertilizer, it's with the practice of soil depletion. To a large degree it is a problem with the soil's ability to retain the fertilizer and surrender it when needed. This is a measured value known as CEC or Cation Exchange Capacity. One way you can dramatically increase your soils ability to hold nutrients and water is to add Organic Matter (OM) which is most easily done in the form of compost (plus you are adding loads of other great stuff like humic acid). I tend to feel that plants like to be provided with more consistent conditions rather than being shocked. This is very clearly demonstrated in the case of how Tomatoes split when overwatered. Really what I think happens is the fruit has essentially been growing to lower water conditions and with the influx of water (which it needs) forces the fruit to swell and split. It probably didn't have well enough regulated water.

I grew Sungold cherry Tomatoes last year under drip irrigation and fairly thick straw mulch (mulch is very important for moisture regulation). Sungold is renowned for flavor but notorious for splitting. I had hardly any split fruit at all until the end of the season when I was tired of eating them and just left them to regular rainfall (vs watering them regularly) and even then it was minimal.

My point in all this is it sounds like your plants need a combination of more consistent watering, an application of mulch to maintain more consistent moisture levels and more consistent nutrient availability, especially when the plant needs it the most like Phil mentions when setting fruit or flowering.

About the only time you want to restrict watering, and this could possibly be true in the case of Hops (I am not sure) is that at certain points in the plants development you want the plant to produce more of some compound (or such) by stressing it, or in other cases to simply prevent too much water from diluting the flavor. This is true with Melons which require a dry spell up to a week or two prior to harvest to help the fruit have higher sugar. There are loads of other examples. Chilis will be hotter when deprived at the correct time (an increase of capsaicin in response to stress). The list goes on and on.
 

DeadDoc

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zoebisch01 said:
The real problem with commercial fertilizer is not really with the fertilizer, it's with the practice of soil depletion. To a large degree it is a problem with the soil's ability to retain the fertilizer and surrender it when needed. This is a measured value known as CEC or Cation Exchange Capacity. One way you can dramatically increase your soils ability to hold nutrients and water is to add Organic Matter (OM) which is most easily done in the form of compost (plus you are adding loads of other great stuff like humic acid). I tend to feel that plants like to be provided with more consistent conditions rather than being shocked. This is very clearly demonstrated in the case of how Tomatoes split when overwatered. Really what I think happens is the fruit has essentially been growing to lower water conditions and with the influx of water (which it needs) forces the fruit to swell and split. It probably didn't have well enough regulated water.

I grew Sungold cherry Tomatoes last year under drip irrigation and fairly thick straw mulch (mulch is very important for moisture regulation). Sungold is renowned for flavor but notorious for splitting. I had hardly any split fruit at all until the end of the season when I was tired of eating them and just left them to regular rainfall (vs watering them regularly) and even then it was minimal.

My point in all this is it sounds like your plants need a combination of more consistent watering, an application of mulch to maintain more consistent moisture levels and more consistent nutrient availability, especially when the plant needs it the most like Phil mentions when setting fruit or flowering.

About the only time you want to restrict watering, and this could possibly be true in the case of Hops (I am not sure) is that at certain points in the plants development you want the plant to produce more of some compound (or such) by stressing it, or in other cases to simply prevent too much water from diluting the flavor. This is true with Melons which require a dry spell up to a week or two prior to harvest to help the fruit have higher sugar. There are loads of other examples. Chilis will be hotter when deprived at the correct time (an increase of capsaicin in response to stress). The list goes on and on.
I had grown a garden over where we had cut down some bushes and wow everything produced very nicely. Water everything usually once a day depending what it was and fertilized the ground pre-planting and about once every 3-4 months during growing season. (15-30-15 mixture) By the way don't fertilize the plant directly, just the ground, unless your fertilizer says to! It can and will eat up the plant. Due to water restrictions we have here I couldn't set up a proper watering system outside to keep it very consistent and it did show when you looked at the plants.
 

zoebisch01

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DeadDoc said:
Due to water restrictions we have here I couldn't set up a proper watering system outside to keep it very consistent and it did show when you looked at the plants.
Sounds like a case of the township not having a good understanding of the benefits of drip irrigation and water conservation. :D They probably need an education on the subject. A combination of Drip irrigation, mulch and soil high in Organic Matter is so drastically different than standard commercial overhead watering in terms of water and energy conservation, effectiveness of watering and reduction of weed problems.
 

mykayel

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So, would it be benificial for hops (and tomatoes or any other pant...) to much the base or the entire garden bed to help maintain the water after watering in the morning?
 

DeadDoc

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zoebisch01 said:
Sounds like a case of the township not having a good understanding of the benefits of drip irrigation and water conservation. :D They probably need an education on the subject. A combination of Drip irrigation, mulch and soil high in Organic Matter is so drastically different than standard commercial overhead watering in terms of water and energy conservation, effectiveness of watering and reduction of weed problems.
Well our lakes ended up 20% left of water at the end of last year. But as soon as they lift the ban (at least the ability to water once a week it sounds like) I will put a nice setup in. BTW this is Atlanta GA and most of the northern half around it. Apparently GA is wanting to expand the northern border about a few miles to tap into the TN Rivers for water.
 

DeadDoc

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mykayel said:
So, would it be benificial for hops (and tomatoes or any other pant...) to much the base or the entire garden bed to help maintain the water after watering in the morning?
Just make sure you don't have too much mulch there for when you water the next time and so on that the all the moisture is being kept in the mulch and not getting into the ground and that the area isn't super moist where mold and fungus will grow. For my tomatoes and other plants I had a small layer of pine straw around the plants.

If you can avoid watering at the peak hour of sunlight.... it will cause the least amount of water to get into the plants. And always avoid watering when there is a lack of sun ie depending on area like 6pm till 6am. That will cause nasty plant problems and can cause them to be killed off by fungus.
 
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