Half-inch EMT conduit is not strong enough to support even first year growth in a heavy thunderstorm.
My first-year Challenger plants have exceeded my expectations by a large margin because I have never had any success with British hop cultivars. These things are mutants. They laughed at the Japanese beetles during the recent swarm. I waged chemical warfare on those nasty little foliage destroyers last Saturday. I took the fight directly to them on their favorite treat in my yard; namely, the Yoshino Cherry trees that are planted near my house. Carbaryl (brand name Sevin) makes quick work of a Japanese beetle swarm if you apply it correctly. I hit my hops with neem oil only to discover that it was the wrong kind of neem oil. I used clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil, which is the anti-fungal, miticide component. I needed to use azadirachtin, which is the component of neem oil that works like a life cycle disrupting hormone on leaf eaters while not killing predator insects. For those who want to avoid making the mistake that I made, the only product that I have found that contains azadirachtin is Safer BioNEEM. I had to order this product because it is not sold locally.
Front to back: Cascade, Fuggle H, Horizon, Santiam, Spalt Select, and Challenger (my neighbor's sheep are off in the distance)
The distance from the ground to the PVC tee at the top is 10 feet.
My Fuggle H hills did not fare as well with the Japanese beetles, but they are starting to produce cones. The other hills are in the burr stage to some extent.
Challenger is a beast. The only other hop cultivars with which I have experienced anywhere near this kind of first year growth are Southern Brewer and Kirin II, both of which where bred for latitude 39 or shorter photoperiods (sadly, I dug those crowns out when I took my extended hiatus from the hobby). The binds on my Challenger hills exceeded the 10' mark early last month. There is at least five feet of growth dangling down from the PVC tee. One would not expect a hop that was bred to grow in alkaline soil at the 51st parallel would grow in acidic soil at the 39th parallel.