Author Topic: Giving up on homegrown hops  (Read 1583 times)

Offline corkybstewart

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Giving up on homegrown hops
« on: November 24, 2020, 08:45:16 pm »
When I lived in the desert furnace of Carlsbad NM I had excellent harvests of Cascades and decent harvests of Magnum, in spite of 100F+ temps from March to October.  Now I live at 6200' where the highest summer temps are mid 90's.  When we moved I dug up all my crowns-about 20 Cascade and 5 Magnums, and replanted them here.  But the soil is terrible, it's just rotten granite(sand and clay) so every rhyzome I planted from those crowns came up, grew about a foot tall and died.  I bought plants from Great Lakes this spring, they did the same.  It's discouraging but it's the reality.  So I hope y'all will post lots of pics of thriving hops plants for me to drool over.
Life is wonderful in sunny White Signal New Mexico

Offline pete b

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2020, 07:34:20 am »
I wouldn't give up on them just yet. Get a soil test, amend your soil in the early spring accordingly and give them plenty of water the next two springs. From your description your organic material in your soil is probably going to turn out to be less than 5% and you want to get it up towards 15%. The PH will probably be wrong too. Given the relatively small footprint of hops plants it should be easy to add enough compost and manure and mineral amendments to be successful. They actually like well drained soil as long as there is enough organic material.
Also, while cutting away all but 3 or 4 bines in mature plants is best for hop cone production IMO you would be best off this coming spring to allow everything to grow so that there is a lot of leaf area to promote photosynthesis which will in turn feed the microbiome of your hop yard and promote healthy roots.
Make sure to mulch liberally with compost, composted manure, or composted wood chips. Don't mulch with fresh woodchips! They will use up tons of nitrogen to break down.
I also recommend treating your hops yard as one organism, which is how it works. While you want to get lots of organic material and the right minerals directly on your crowns its also good to improve the overall area over the years. Spread manure, grow cover crops, and amend/adjust ph and you will create a little ecosystem that will then take care of itself, retaining water and creating its own organic materials from all the worms, bacteria, yearly decomposition of cover crops etc. You can grow a few crops of fast growing covers like buckwheat, vetch, and field peas the first year to quickly develop the soil then do a long term cover of clover.
This may sound like a lot of work but its actually only a day or so of work tops the first year and maybe a couple hours of upkeep each spring.
P.S., welcome back to homebrewing and the forum, I had some time off myself.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2020, 08:22:43 am »
Pete has good advice. My soils is gravel. The best growing hop plants I have went into a hole I fig and back filled with manure and black dirt. As a friend's dad said, "dig a $50 hole for your $5 plant".

Have thought about trying NeoMexicanus varieties? Native to the mountains of NM. Todd Bates would be the guy to contact, I think he is up around Taos. I don't have contact info.
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2020, 11:11:36 am »
What you guys suggest is what i tried this past spring.  Last summer(2019) I collected a whole bunch of cow manure from our property and composted it with kitchen compostables and used it last spring.  It made the plants last 2 months and grow a foot tall before dying-better than the previous year when the plants only got a few inches tall before dying.  That compost was incredible for the veggie garden, I've got a freezer full of garden veggies and I'm still harvesting  fall crops, but it didn't help much with the hops.  And back in March I planted 3 plants of each of 3 varieties of neomexicanus, they did no better than the Cascades or Magnums.  I'm sure I'll give it one more shot, I really, really hate admitting defeat.  Right now I have about 400 pounds of horse manure composting-I just turned it a few minutes ago and it's looking like dirt now, not horse turds, and about 2 hundred pounds of kitchen/cow manure compost that has been sitting since June.
I grew hops successfully for probably 15 years in the desert before moving into the foothills on the other side of the state, where I am now should be a much better environment for hops, and that's is what is so frustrating.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2020, 11:13:44 am by corkybstewart »
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Offline denny

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2020, 11:13:25 am »
FWIW, I grew hops for 15 years before deciding it just wasn't worth it to me.  Maybe something for you to consider
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2020, 11:15:33 am »
FWIW, I grew hops for 15 years before deciding it just wasn't worth it to me.  Maybe something for you to consider

I know.  But now I'm retired, got a beautiful veggie garden, and I really enjoyed my fresh hop beers from 3 or 4 years ago.  And I'm stubborn.
Life is wonderful in sunny White Signal New Mexico

Offline pete b

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2020, 11:31:23 am »
It sounds like your on the right track. I would still get the soil tested or at least check ph.
What you describe sounds like it could be a fungal disease. I assume it’s not an insect problem because you would have mentioned leaves that look like lace.
You could spray with copper sulfate and a biological fungicide once every couple weeks once leaves form as you continue to improve the fertility of the soil.
Don't let the bastards cheer you up.

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2020, 11:43:05 am »
It sounds like your on the right track. I would still get the soil tested or at least check ph.
What you describe sounds like it could be a fungal disease. I assume it’s not an insect problem because you would have mentioned leaves that look like lace.
You could spray with copper sulfate and a biological fungicide once every couple weeks once leaves form as you continue to improve the fertility of the soil.
In terms of bugs we're so far out and away from people I never even had a squash bug all summer.  I have one broccoli plant with a few aphids, but dishsoap took care of them.  Our "soil" has nearly zero organic material so I have been working on that since we moved here 2 years ago.  And manure is free and very plentiful so I'll have plenty of it composted for next spring. 
Life is wonderful in sunny White Signal New Mexico

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2020, 02:05:00 pm »
Good luck!  You can always switch to hydroponics and grow lights, if you can’t get acceptable results your way....Cheers!
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2020, 02:06:29 pm »
You're on the correct path.

Where did you find your NeoMexicanus hops?
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2020, 03:05:27 pm »
Have you contacted your local Ag Extension office?
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Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2020, 07:19:40 am »
You're on the correct path.

Where did you find your NeoMexicanus hops?
Great lakes Nursery.  They sell potted plants, not rhyzomes.
Life is wonderful in sunny White Signal New Mexico

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2020, 07:29:02 am »
You're on the correct path.

Where did you find your NeoMexicanus hops?
Great lakes Nursery.  They sell potted plants, not rhyzomes.

NeoMexicanus via Zeeland Michigan, that makes me smile.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline chinaski

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Re: Giving up on homegrown hops
« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2020, 09:34:29 am »
FWIW, I grew hops for 15 years before deciding it just wasn't worth it to me.  Maybe something for you to consider

I know.  But now I'm retired, got a beautiful veggie garden, and I really enjoyed my fresh hop beers from 3 or 4 years ago.  And I'm stubborn.
Don't give up!  I set a goal to provide myself all of the hops I need to brew 12-15 batches a year.  It took a while to figure out which varieties will do well for me, but I did it.  And I don't just grow 2 varieties of hops.  Worth it to me, but I consider the work part of the enjoyment and extension of my brewing hobby.