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General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: kramerog on September 10, 2012, 07:04:45 AM

Title: Best time to selectively pick hops
Post by: kramerog on September 10, 2012, 07:04:45 AM
I selectively pick hops rather than picking all hops from a plant at one time because I see many immature hops on my plants.  I tend to pick hops just as they are beginning to brown whether it is brown tips or the emergence of brown tints in the leaves.  I also take into account the extent that the hop is opened up.  I believe that this may be the same criteria used by commercial growers to drop bines and harvesting all hops including ones that are not as mature.

Am I using the right criteria for selective harvesting?  Does it matter that my hops are primarily used for flavor and aroma?
Title: Re: Best time to selectively pick hops
Post by: b-hoppy on September 10, 2012, 08:05:56 AM
It seems like you're on the right track.  I've seen a formula that the growers use where they take samples (so many grams/plant) at certain points throughout the field and measure 'wet' and then 'dry' weights and proceed accordingly.  Because the cones on the entire plant ripen at different rates, they have to make a call to get the biggest bang for their buck being that they only take the harvester into the fields once.  As home growers, we have a lot more flexibility  which is a good thing.  Hop On!!
Title: Re: Best time to selectively pick hops
Post by: mihalybaci on September 10, 2012, 08:08:18 AM
Those are good indicators, though you might want to try to catch them before they turn brown at all. You should also give them a squeeze, they should be fairly stiff and springy. Maybe a better tact would be to wait until they're very aromatic. Young hops will smell fresh, like new-mown grass, but mature hops should have a potent aroma more similar to what you would expect from the variety. Just pull one off and rip/cut it in half, maybe rub it in your hands, and take a whiff. If it smells ready and looks ready, it is ready.
Title: Re: Best time to selectively pick hops
Post by: kramerog on September 10, 2012, 08:35:04 AM
Those are good indicators, though you might want to try to catch them before they turn brown at all. You should also give them a squeeze, they should be fairly stiff and springy. Maybe a better tact would be to wait until they're very aromatic. Young hops will smell fresh, like new-mown grass, but mature hops should have a potent aroma more similar to what you would expect from the variety. Just pull one off and rip/cut it in half, maybe rub it in your hands, and take a whiff. If it smells ready and looks ready, it is ready.

There is a very long period between when hops visibly have yellow oils and before they become brown. 
I picked 9 oz of fresh hops in early August (the hops had yellow oils) and added them to secondary of 5-gal batch of American PA.  I was not impressed with the resulting hop aroma especially compared to prior years' wet hopping.  Consequently, I've pushed off picking in the hop of increasing the oil content but I don't want to overdo it at the same time. 
Title: Re: Best time to selectively pick hops
Post by: khillje on September 10, 2012, 02:56:44 PM
This year I selectively picked mine like you're talking about.  I generally use the "spring back after the pinch" technique too to determine when they're ready.  I didn't yield much at all this year due to the drought. 
Title: Re: Best time to selectively pick hops
Post by: dcdwort on September 12, 2012, 02:30:13 PM
Thanks for this topic.  I picked some wild hopes about a month ago and had some that were starting to turn brown on the leaves and then found some that were greener.  The greener ones were still very light and airy with a mild aroma.  Have not used them in a batch yet but will in about another week.