Author Topic: Thinking about growing hops  (Read 4140 times)

Offline Lcplallan

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Thinking about growing hops
« on: May 15, 2015, 05:33:36 AM »
So, I did do a search prior to posting this, but, I did not see answers to my questions. So if you all wouldn't mind humoring me with some knowledge bombs (can't say that on a plane.)
When first growing hops is it better to start from seeds, or (if it's even possible) from another plant?
Follow up, can you take a part from another plant and successfully grow it? If so, how?
What is the best kind of climate for hops? Are they like grapes and like tougher soil to grow in to produce a better product? Or do they like soil that is softer and thoroughly fertilized?
I saw a post about clipping the first shoots. Please forgive me, but what exactly is the shoot? The vine that climbs? And how long are they when you clip them?

Most importantly, what literature about growing hops would you recommend for the novice?

As always, thank you so much for your time and information!

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2015, 11:39:15 AM »
I don't grow any hops but have read enough to help with the basics.

Hops are typically propagated using the rhizomes, or roots.  Growers dig up the root balls and cut out enough rhizomes to open up the ball for new growth and then replant and propagate additional hills.  This is the same way irises and rhubarb and many other plants are grown.

The first shoots are just the first growth each spring.  Each rhizome will send up multiple shoots which will become the vines.  To limit the size of the plant and increase production you want to limit the number of vines on each hill to 3 or 4.

As I understand it most hops prefer northern climates, a little cooler and lots and lots of water.

Search the forum a bit.  I know there is at least one thread dedicated to growing hops and has a ton of good info in it.

Paul
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2015, 01:33:44 PM »
Hop varieties are all clones propagated from the root stock, if you plant seeds the results are something different, just like apple seeds (apples of a variety are all clones).

Hops like a lot of water but they like well drained soil.

Hops benefit from long days and direct sunlight for most of the day. Some say they need a period of dormancy during the winter. Hops will grow from roughly the 35 to 55th parallels. The commercial production happens mostly in the 45 to 50th parallels.

Hops are a lot of work. You trim, string the twine, and train the bines in the spring. You water and fertilize in the summer, and check and treat pests too. In the late summer you harvest and dry the hops, that is some work. The bines and leaves will scratch you and give you welts. The cones must be dried and packaged, unless you are doing a wet harvest beer.

I have one plant each for 12 varieties, it is something of a labor of love. It is fun to watch the rapid growth, and those do provide nice shade when they are up the side and over the trellis on the deck.


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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2015, 02:32:49 PM »
These guys do a good job of explaining the hop growing process: http://www.freshops.com/#

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Offline b-hoppy

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2015, 02:43:21 PM »
 I was fortunate to enough to meet and pick the brains of lots of hop folks over the years, and one of the first was Al Haunold back in the early 90's. He was the head of the breeding program down in Corvallis for about 30 years until he retired in the late 90's and is responsible for many of the public varieties being grown today. Here's a really good article that explains what hops are, how they grow and a bit about breeding: http://faculty.agron.iastate.edu/fehr/HOCP/27HOCP.pdf. From what I've learned from growers and merchants in Oregon and Washington, this transcript from a presentation from Jason Perrault of Select Botanicals is spot on (and a little more): http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/jason-perrault-transcript.pdf. There's tons of really high quality info out there but you have to do a little searching. Hoppy Trails~

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2015, 02:56:28 PM »
Those are links with quality information!
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Offline denny

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2015, 03:22:10 PM »
I was fortunate to enough to meet and pick the brains of lots of hop folks over the years, and one of the first was Al Haunold back in the early 90's. He was the head of the breeding program down in Corvallis for about 30 years until he retired in the late 90's and is responsible for many of the public varieties being grown today. Here's a really good article that explains what hops are, how they grow and a bit about breeding: http://faculty.agron.iastate.edu/fehr/HOCP/27HOCP.pdf. From what I've learned from growers and merchants in Oregon and Washington, this transcript from a presentation from Jason Perrault of Select Botanicals is spot on (and a little more): http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/jason-perrault-transcript.pdf. There's tons of really high quality info out there but you have to do a little searching. Hoppy Trails~

I visied Jason's hop farm last Sept. during harvest.  He definitely knows his stuff.
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Offline b-hoppy

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2015, 04:54:23 PM »
Thanks Jeff.  Gardening is such a ubiquitous hobby that many folks overlook the fact that people (myself included) actually earn degrees in plant related fields, haha!  And Denny, it's really a treat to be able to talk to like folks like Jason who are working off of 4-5 generations of experience.  It's all good~

Offline Lcplallan

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2015, 07:22:24 PM »
Gentlemen, thank you so much for the information! You've given me plenty of reading materials for my breaks at work. Looks like I'll have my hands full once I start growing!

Offline ibru

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2015, 07:55:32 PM »
Denny, you going to the hop school this year?

Bruce

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2015, 01:11:04 PM »
A word of advice is that growing hops is not a way to save money.  There can be significant start up costs when planting more than a hill or two unless one is blessed with natural/man-made features to use as part of a one's trellis system, abundant rainfall, has a ready source of mulching material, and does not own dogs (hops are deadly to some dog breeds such as my goldens). I have at least $300.00 invested in my current hop yard at this point, which is due in part to replanting and reworking of my trellis and drip irrigation systems.   I had a single 1/2" main line with 1/4" feeder tubes to 2-gallon per hour drippers to service two rows of hops last year.  This year I switched to Toro Blue Line drip tubing components (this drip tubing is heavy duty compared to big box store drip tubing), and ran two tee-connected main lines with the drippers installed on the main line.   My house draws water from a deep fractured rock well; therefore, I have to be conservative with water use during the summer months.    Drip irrigation allows me to deliver water directly to the hills without watering everything around the hills.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2015, 01:30:51 PM »
I bought coir twine this year, $30 for 450 ft, and used most of it.

Homegrown hops are the most expensive ones I use.
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Offline thirsty

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2015, 11:56:05 PM »
I would like to take the opposite view and say that in my opinion you can grow hops without spending much money at all. Just like brewing beer, or any other hobby, you can get amazing results on a very low budget system, or you can spend thousands of dollars on an expensive system. You can still get great beer either way.

I have hops growing in all different parts of my yard. Mostly on my garden fence and along a trellis that my wife wanted. I tried having them grow up tall poles, and they grew just fine, but I'm lazy and got tired of the hassle of getting the poles down at the end of the summer. All my plants are between six and three years old. I planted the rhizomes, watered them like any normal garden plant, and that was that. I now have so many hops at the end of the summer, I can barely make enough beer to use them all. I can't remember the last time I had to buy hops.

They are, in general, very easy to grow and maintain. I have found that here in the USA, it's easier to grow native hops. The British and German varieties I have tried to grow just don't seem to like the climate here in the north east.

Also, make sure you grow varieties that you know you will want to use over and over, because to paraphrase something Denny once said, the problem with hops is not trying to make them grow, the problem is trying to keep them from taking over every square inch of your yard after a few years.

Offline bengelbrau

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2015, 01:06:19 AM »
Quote
They are, in general, very easy to grow and maintain. I have found that here in the USA, it's easier to grow native hops. The British and German varieties I have tried to grow just don't seem to like the climate here in the north east.

In eastern Washington, I am doing just fine with Tettnang, but I gave up on Willamette. It might have been due to my speaking German to the bines... "guten Morgen. Wie gehts?".

Offline chinaski

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Re: Thinking about growing hops
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2015, 01:26:16 AM »
A word of advice is that growing hops is not a way to save money. 

So much of brewing & associated stuff like hop growing is not about saving money, IMO.  Its a fun labor of love for me as well as a brewer's challenge to create original recipes around MY hops, including bittering additions.  I grew approx. 3 lbs. dry weight of hops last year (12 varieties) & like the challenge of supplying my own ingredients.