Author Topic: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?  (Read 2948 times)

Offline Ale Farmer

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Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« on: November 22, 2015, 01:48:15 AM »
I grew hops for the first time this past year, and all went well for the first year--a lot of green leaves, only a handful of cones on my three plants (East Kent Golding, Perle, and Northern Brewer), but great hopes for 2016 now that the plants are more established.

To prepare for next year, should I cover the plant crowns with mulch or some similar protection so as to help them winter over? I know hops are hardy, but would an extra layer help--or possibly hurt? I live in Western Massachusetts, so things do get fairly cold and snowy in a typical winter.

Any advice would be appreciated.


 
George

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Bottled:Wit, Vienna Lager, Nut Brown Ale, Amber Ale, Irish Red Ale, Mild Ale, Brown Porter, Spruce Porter, APA.

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Offline fmader

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2015, 01:57:40 AM »
i cover mine up with a thick layer of mulch... Maybe 6-8 inches. However, last year was one of the coldest winters in history here in NE Ohio. A critter of sort uncovered my Columbus plant at some point during the winter. The crown was completely exposed when I noticed it in the spring. I thought for sure it was a goner. Nope. Grew fine.
Frank

Offline pete b

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2015, 02:35:25 AM »
Hi George, I live not so far away in Barre, MA. I have grown hops for 6 years now and have never mulched them over winter and never had a problem, and as you know the last couple of winters were brutal. The only real problem I have had is getting them established the first year. Once they are going they are pretty tough.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2015, 02:38:33 AM »
My hops have never been covered in the winter, south east MI here.
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Offline fmader

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2015, 02:48:13 AM »
Like these guys have said and what I've learned, it's really not necessary. But the great thing about mulch is it helps replenish nutrients to the soil.
Frank

Offline pete b

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2015, 03:30:01 AM »
Like these guys have said and what I've learned, it's really not necessary. But the great thing about mulch is it helps replenish nutrients to the soil.
That's a great point Frank. I give them a good heaping pile of sifted compost as a mulch in spring so why not do it ahead of time in the fall. The one caveat would be that it could be a problem if there is a very wet early spring and you have soil that drains poorly. we used to have wet springs but apparently not anymore.
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Offline fmader

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2015, 03:45:02 AM »
Like these guys have said and what I've learned, it's really not necessary. But the great thing about mulch is it helps replenish nutrients to the soil.
That's a great point Frank. I give them a good heaping pile of sifted compost as a mulch in spring so why not do it ahead of time in the fall. The one caveat would be that it could be a problem if there is a very wet early spring and you have soil that drains poorly. we used to have wet springs but apparently not anymore.

I didn't add any new this fall. I just raked over what was there. I'll sweep the wood shed out in the swing and add that nice hardwood mulch to them.
Frank

Offline pete b

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2015, 03:50:44 AM »
Like these guys have said and what I've learned, it's really not necessary. But the great thing about mulch is it helps replenish nutrients to the soil.
That's a great point Frank. I give them a good heaping pile of sifted compost as a mulch in spring so why not do it ahead of time in the fall. The one caveat would be that it could be a problem if there is a very wet early spring and you have soil that drains poorly. we used to have wet springs but apparently not anymore.

I didn't add any new this fall. I just raked over what was there. I'll sweep the wood shed out in the swing and add that nice hardwood mulch to them.
I wouldn't use fresh wood mulch, it uses a ton of nitrogen to break down. Better to use organic material that is already composted.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline Ale Farmer

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2015, 03:07:26 AM »
Thanks for all your replies. Glad to hear that the plants likely will do just fine without any cover. I think I'll check the plants carefully in the next week or so and then add a bit a mulch with an eye towards spring.
George

Brew and grow...

Bottled:Wit, Vienna Lager, Nut Brown Ale, Amber Ale, Irish Red Ale, Mild Ale, Brown Porter, Spruce Porter, APA.

Fermenting:English Pale Ale (Target & Progress hops), English Pale Ale (EKG & Cascade)

Next Brews: Golden Bitter, California Common, Belgian Maibock, Wit

Offline b-hoppy

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2015, 05:35:07 AM »
One of the things you have to be aware of is that desiccation can create some problems with lots of plants.  If the soil freezes solid and there's no form of protection for the buds on the upper part of the crown and you get a really windy winter, those buds can lose enough moisture to burn right off.  Yes, hops are pretty resilient but it can happen.  Even if you don't have access to a suitable mulch, some of the surrounding soil can be mounded up to help them make it through a windy winter . . . or hope you get some good snow cover.  It's kind of a long shot but it never hurts to err on the safe side!

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Re: Cover Hops Plants for Winter?
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2015, 04:22:29 PM »
One of my Cascade hop plants lost its cover last winter, and it took forever to get started in the spring.