Trellising and harvesting 1st year

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Wesmando

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I was wandering how extensive to get with first year hop rhizomes? So far some vines are 3 plus feet long. My ideas include T post, 56" tobacco sticks with a cross grid or simply up then down. Or should i cut some 12 ft elm bean poles. Then if i was to have a small crop would i be better harvesting all at once or succession picking?
 

friarsmith

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The first year is all about root development and less about height & harvest quantity.

Give them something in the 5' to 8' range to climb (fence/pole/twine, etc), don't prune them (IMO), give them a deep soak every 4-6 days (depending on rainfall and heat and if they "look thirsty"). Otherwise, leave them alone.

At harvest time, if the cones have yellow lupulin and smell good, by all means pick them gradually from your short trellis as the cones mature and use them as a late addition in a beer. Leave the plant in place until the first frost so the roots have more chance to develop. Enjoy this first year when the cones are within reach and you can inspect them closely before picking. :)

In future years, the decision to pick all at once or gradually is up to you. Knowing the peak harvest time is as much art as science and it varies by year, and over the years you'll get better.

I have a dozen mature plants and have been growing hops since 2005. I'm a trained Master Gardener as well. Considering each plant takes 60-120 minutes for me or a low-wage neighbor kid to pick, I cut and harvest each plant on the same day, hopefully within a 2-3 day window when each plant is at its best. Gradual picking is not a good option for me, even if I had a twine trellis that could be lowered. You'll understand the first time you see a loaded Brewers Gold, Columbus, Chinook or (insert American "C" variety) and go hops blind after two hours.

Enjoy these crazy, er invasive creatures and don't be afraid to brew with them.
 
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