So I've recently bought a house with an acre and a half. Previously I've rented my friends basement where I have 3.5 year old hops growing in his back yard. This spring, I plan to do some transplanting (and plant a few additional varieties). This previous (HOT) summer wasn't a great harvest due to the severe drought, but I did notice that the vine that caught the first shade from a nearby tree in late afternoon has always performed better. I'm wondering what % of sunlight works best for growing hops. Since I'm starting anew, I want to plant right from the ground up. Any techniques/tips that can get my brew garden off on the right foot?
As a fellow Colorado hop grower (Fort Collins), I would probably recommend at least some partial shade in the mid- to late-afternoon to give them a break in the hottest part of the day. Of the four hop plants I have two have a southern exposure with no shade from 7 am to 5 pm during the summer, and two are on the west so they get full sun from noon to about 5-6 pm, and they all did horrible this year. Partly from the heat, drought, and a minor spider mite problem. Spider mites, by the way, thrive in hot, dry conditions (i.e. Colorado), so if you see them, take action fast. Anyway, I think in Colorado some relief from the heat is good. Or as gsandel mentioned, they'd probably do well in full sun provided the ground is partially shaded to prevent too much moisture loss.
Also, of the four varieties I have the two best performers for me have been Cascade and Brewer's Gold. My chinook is okay, but its a few years younger so it isn't as established. I also have a hallertau, but I can tell that it struggles in the heat and I wish I'd planted it in partial shade.