So Cal Hops - Growth Stopped and Leaves start to Yellow

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Almighty

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Hop experts hopefully you can help figure out why all 3 of our hop plants have stopped growing and are slowing turning yellow.

We have Magnum, Centennial and Chinook. All three were healthy chunks of a crown taken from an established hop garden/farm. We planted them in 50/50 compost and organic potting soil. Then mulch on top. They have been watered fairly deeply every 2-3 days. No other fertilizer has been used. We did get a few spider mites but they were killed pretty quickly using Sevin.

All three started off very well until a couple weeks ago. I marked the height of the growing tip and have not seen growth for 2 weeks and the tip is starting to turn brown. And the leaves have slowly turned yellow. The weather in San Diego has been pretty normal for us 70-80.

I wondering if we should add fertilizer and what kind?
OR
Will it help to use lighter more frequent waterings?

Here are a few pictures.
Chinook


Centennial


Magnum


and there is some more pics on my website
http://jeffreycrane.blogspot.com/2011/05/2011-hop-gardens.html
 

theredben

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Your Chinook SCREAMS Iron deficiency to me. The other plants look like spider mite/regular enviromental damage to me.
 

damdaman

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Could be any number of things going on. Yes on the fertilizer, but please feed them something slow-release organic, not chemical. Chemical fertilizers cover up symptoms of infertile soil, but they don't repair the soil. Potting soil is usually very infertile, as seedlings require little nutrition. The compost you added to the potting soil is not going to be enough to feed them all growing season, even if it's highly fertile compost, which is unlikely. Compost is also usually imbalanced in nutrients, mainly it should be thought of as a means of adding organic matter (unless you're extremely precise in how you make it, in which case it will be adding some valuable nutrients), which contributes to healthy soil microorganisms and retains water. Basically you still need to add the means for the soil microorganisms to produce nutrients for your hops, which is where organic, slow-release fertilizer comes in.

Whether you're over-watering depends on the soil you've created. Likely you are, considering potting soil and compost both retain moisture very well, unless the plants have become root-bound in those smallish pots. When this happens, the soil doesn't hold moisture very well as it just slides down the sides of the pots and out the drainage holes. The roots prevent penetration in the main soil mass.

If I were you, I would fertilize liberally with a complete organic fertilizer and cut the watering down a little. You can probably get decent growth out of them this year and let them store up energy for next year if you play it right. Based on your description I think they are definitely lacking in nutrients.

Once they go dormant for the season I'd transplant them into pots 3x that size, maybe bigger, filled with a mixture of topsoil (sandy soil is best, you can add sand if you have a heavy clay soil), compost, and complete organic fertilizer. They should then hopefully produce well next year.
 

zinger084

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I have a similar issue going on with my hops. At the bottom of the plant, a few leaves are almost completely "holed" out and yellow. As you go up the plant (~15 feet long), when you get halfway, the leaves appear to be OK. As you go up from 0-7feet, you see the leaves appear to be somewhat yellow in areas, with some holes towards the bottom.

I am worried about it being downy mildew. Is there an herbicide for this?

If it's not mildew, what's the best fertilizer to use?
 
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Almighty

Almighty

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Great feedback guys. Do you have an organic fertilizer that you recommend?

and zinger084 I have read that this will happen with the lower leaves as the plant is working to move all the nutrients to the growing top leaves.
 

dannedry

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Great feedback guys. Do you have an organic fertilizer that you recommend?

and zinger084 I have read that this will happen with the lower leaves as the plant is working to move all the nutrients to the growing top leaves.
Am wondering about fertilizer also... my 2nd year hops are far short of reaching the top of my 18' trellis system... I am regretting not fertilizing last fall and this spring. Is it too late to add slow release fertilizer? Do you pull back the mulch, apply around the crown, then put the mulch back over top? Or do I have to try to mix it in the soil around the crown?

Thanks guys. :mug:
 

damdaman

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Am wondering about fertilizer also... my 2nd year hops are far short of reaching the top of my 18' trellis system... I am regretting not fertilizing last fall and this spring. Is it too late to add slow release fertilizer? Do you pull back the mulch, apply around the crown, then put the mulch back over top? Or do I have to try to mix it in the soil around the crown?

Thanks guys. :mug:
Preferably you should mix it all in to the soil, but side-dressing (sprinkling it around on the top of the soil) is good too. Maybe mix it with a little bit of compost or new soil and add it on top of the soil, water it enough to soak through the fertilizer, then replace the mulch. I would probably add about 1-2 cups per plant originally, and then another, smaller side-dressing later in the season before they die back.

You want something along the lines of this (credit for this recipe to Steve Solomon who wrote a great book on organic gardening for people in the PNW):

4 parts seedmeal (soybean, canola, cottonseed)
1/2 part dolomitic lime
1/2 part phosphate rock
1/2 part kelp meal

If you buy the ingredients in bulk and mix it yourself you save a lot of money. However, I'm lazy, and just buy this stuff and add lime to it:
http://www.territorialseed.com/product/9459/267

It's not too late at all, it will start helping your plants within days. The advantage is that it isn't just a one-shot injection of nutrients, it breaks down into usable nutrients in the soil gradually over time, feeding your plants continually as they grow.
 

zinger084

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so don't use miracle grow plant food? i used this once originally in the spring and was going to use it again this weekend...
 

damdaman

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so don't use miracle grow plant food? i used this once originally in the spring and was going to use it again this weekend...
That's a matter of opinion. My opinion is that if you build healthy soil using quality sandy soil, compost and complete organic fertilizer there's no need for chemical additions like Miracle Gro.

However, if you have plants that are currently suffering, a chemical fertilizer can help repair the damage quickly while you work on building up healthy soil to prevent the problem from recurring. However, foliar feeding with an organic fertilizer will work just as well, if not better.
 

a_potter

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Milorganite is a really good slow release fetilizer that is very mild. I think it is 4-4 + iron. I use it on my hops a couple times a year and it really seems to perk them up. I am still building my soil up by side dressing but this seems to help.
 

cram

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Hi there,

I also grow in socal--Poway, specifically--and would agree with an earlier poster that the containers you're using are a likely a factor limiting growth. Even in half whiskey/wine barrels, the crowns will eventually take over and start to stunt output. I get about three years from a rhizome planted in a half barrel before I need to dig them out, divide rhizomes, and start over. The other issue is water. Containers dry out very fast and your plants will likely need to be watered daily or even twice daily in these heat spells like we're having now. If you have space in the ground, I would suggest moving your plants this late winter or early spring--best bet would be a raised bed with good soil.

I would imagine that your containers are drilled at the bottom and drain properly, right? Even if they are, sometimes the roots will clog drain holes and effectively drown the plant in stagnant water. So consider checking for adequate drainage if it isn't obvious.

As for fertilizer, I have had great success using only homegrown compost, with about three additions per year: fall, spring, and when they start to bud.
 
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Almighty

Almighty

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I wish we could plant in the ground or use bigger pots. But for now the 20 gal pots are the best option. We will check the rhizome after each season and see if we can move them somewhere.

We did just drill more holes because I don't think we were getting good drainage.

These are being grown in the North Park area so it does not get nearly as warm as Poway. On a side note are you growing your hops in your front yard near Poway Community Park? I just saw three plants growing very well.
 

cram

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Too funny--those are my first year Chinook plants in those three planters in the front yard (the rhizomes were cut from three year old crowns this spring). I harvested the first growth hops yesterday and got 13 oz. There are some more bines just starting to send bracts and some new growth at the base, so I suspect there will be more harvests to come.

I started another post about "two harvests in one year" because those Chinook in the front yard stalled out way lower than usual with much less lateral growth then years past. Usually they go over the top of the trellis you saw and start across the guy line at top, which is over 20 feet tall. Checking them over when I harvested yesterday, it looks like some bines are marching past the first ones, though, so I still have hope that they'll reach the top.

I grow Cascade, Chinook, and Tettnang in the backyard in raised beds--the Cascades and Chinook are going bonkers! If you're in the area and see us around, stop by for a chat/pint of IPA (from the homegrown hops).
 

dannedry

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Preferably you should mix it all in to the soil, but side-dressing (sprinkling it around on the top of the soil) is good too. Maybe mix it with a little bit of compost or new soil and add it on top of the soil, water it enough to soak through the fertilizer, then replace the mulch. I would probably add about 1-2 cups per plant originally, and then another, smaller side-dressing later in the season before they die back.

You want something along the lines of this (credit for this recipe to Steve Solomon who wrote a great book on organic gardening for people in the PNW):

4 parts seedmeal (soybean, canola, cottonseed)
1/2 part dolomitic lime
1/2 part phosphate rock
1/2 part kelp meal

If you buy the ingredients in bulk and mix it yourself you save a lot of money. However, I'm lazy, and just buy this stuff and add lime to it:
http://www.territorialseed.com/product/9459/267

It's not too late at all, it will start helping your plants within days. The advantage is that it isn't just a one-shot injection of nutrients, it breaks down into usable nutrients in the soil gradually over time, feeding your plants continually as they grow.
Thanks man... I went to Home Depot and picked up an 8 pound bag of Espoma Plant-Tone 5-3-3 organic fertilizer. Pulled the mulch back, laid 1 cup of the fertilizer around the crown in a circle... scratched it into the soil by hand quickly, covered back up with mulch, and soaked it a bit. Hopefully that helps... though I don't know how much more vertical growth I will see... many of my hops have just started to form burrs. It will help me in the future though. Thanks for the info!

:mug:
 

cram

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Good call on the organic fertilizer--it's amazing the difference you can see when you feed your plants. Another option for application, down the road when your recent one has run its course, is to use an old hop/grain bag and dump in a cup or so of the fertilizer and fill up a bucket with water and soak the bag overnight in there. Then you can use this water to soak your plants. The solids from the bag can be added to your plants afterwards.

With a lot of growing season left, you might be surprised to find some new shoots make a run...
 
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Almighty

Almighty

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Thanks for the tips. We just got some fertilizer and changed our watering schedule. I'll give you an update in a few weeks.
 

JRems

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Milorganite is a really good slow release fetilizer that is very mild. I think it is 4-4 + iron. I use it on my hops a couple times a year and it really seems to perk them up. I am still buil
ding my soil up by side dressing but this seems to help.

I would not use milorganite, it's made from Human sewage. It contains heavy metals along with who knows what else gets flushed down the drain. It should not be used for plants that you plan to eat or consume.

You can use espoma brand plant tone, or holly tone if your soil needs acid.
 

a_potter

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The full name of it is Milorganite Organic Nitrogen Fertilizer. It says right on it it is totally safe for gardens and vegetables. I've been using it for several years with excellent results. Looking at the spec sheets of this vs. Epsoma they are very similar. Ford vs. Chevy.
 

a_potter

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OK I've done some internet searches on Milorganite and I have to admit, that is pretty gross. Since they are almost the same chemically, perhaps I should switch to Epsoma. I can't imagine why they don't tell you that on their product sheet.:rolleyes:
 

JRems

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It tool years of lobbying to get them to be able to label it "safe" for edible plants. I would not touch the stuff. Now you know why they don't put made from human crap on the package, no one would buy it!
 

Retrofit

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I'll use polite language but once your hops are established I've learned the more I screw with them the more screwed up they become.
Good sun good soil good drainage- that's all I give my hops now. Good luck :)
 
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Almighty

Almighty

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They recovered, but not really in time to give us a yield.
Magnum - 1 week after fertilizer grew 24" side arms but no cones


Centennial - within a week it got nice and green and grew a few more feet


Chinook - Loved the fertilizer and kept going another 5 ft past the roof. And did produce some cones near the roof-line.


For a more detailed write-up check my blog update.
http://jeffreycrane.blogspot.com/2011/05/2011-hop-gardens.html
 
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