Don't be afraid to let them dry up a bit. IME, a little ripe brown bract tip is a good thing.
Is this true? I get freaked out if I see any brown. Mine are looking like it might be an early harvest (3rd year cascade) here in Denver.
A little oxidation (the 'brown' more like amber. on the bracts is from oxidation of the lupilin) can be really beneficial to the flavour.
gsandel, sorry to answer my own assertion
Yes, I think it is true.
I think that a hop flower reaches the point of degradation
when the brown reaches the base of the bract where the lupulin is located.
All that leafy green is just green. The green bracts don't lend anything to brewing.
IME, a little maturity to the lupulin is a good thing,
and you may avoid the "grassiness" sometimes seen with home whole hop use.
Not all flowers are ripe at the same time.
One thing about the home harvest, as apposed to commercial fare,
is that you can have multiple harvests
and pluck individual flowers at peak ripeness.
Don't fear the brown.
Cheers to an early harvest.