growing hops

Discussion in 'Brewing & Beer Knowledge' started by OldMetalGuy, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. OldMetalGuy

    OldMetalGuy

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2016
    Location:
    Beaver Falls, PA
    not sure if this is the correct place, so apologies if not

    Hi folks, I've been looking into the possibility of attempting to grow hops.

    short background, family business was a greenhouse, so I know all about soils, ph, fertlizers, and all the other things about growing things

    I'm interested to see if I can actually grow them initially.. and the selfish reason is if I can, I can ask someone I know who brews to brew me something with them ;)

    I've done a lot of reading, but the big question is, since there are so many varieties, which one or two should I try, and how many plants does it take (given they grow properly) to get enough to brew something with? (for a small home brewer)
     
  2. BadJustin

    BadJustin Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2013
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    You're roughly in the same area (more or less) that I am. Cascades, Chinooks, Centennials all do real well in the NE. There are other varieties that will also grow but those are the big ones that are grown here. I am in Madison County NY which used to be THE hop producing region of the US until prohibition. With the rise in popularity of craft beer, there are hop farms everywhere here now and a few of them are owned by friends.

    Your bines won't start producing to full yield until at least year 3 of growth and being established. 3-5 healthy bines, depending on the height, should give you more than enough product to brew with, a couple times. The hardest part about growing hops is the harvest and drying (imo). It's time consuming and you need lots of room for drying racks, think drying weed, if you're into that ;).

    I gotta prep for a meeting at noon and can add more later and I am sure others will chime in.

    TL;DR easy as fuck to grow, they are after all a weed of sorts and will take over everything in a very small amount of time if not "contained".
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  3. stakem

    stakem

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2013
    Location:
    PA
    PA hop grower reporting for duty.

    Ive grown hops for a number of years now. BadJustin nailed it when he said it is a weed and will take off. If your family is already in the greenery business than you likely already know too much.

    You wont get much outta the first year, second year you might but id wack back most of the shoots to let them concentrate their energy on building roots so that the 3rd year you get a boss amount of growth. Still only letting a couple shoots grow otherwise they put too much energy into growing shoots and not enough flowers.

    Cascades do the best for me.
    Plant south-facing to get the most sun.
    Plant rhyzomes shallow initially and water lightly/frequently, once older you can water less frequently but make sure they have good drainage (ive lost plants to soggy root rot.)
    Give them compost or leaves or any sort of insulation ground cover before winter.
    When shoots pop up in the spring, get the bines trained to rope quickly else they will snap in the wind while young/tender.
    Once the tip of the growing shoot breaks, goodnight, that shoot is done unless it sends out side shoots.

    Edit:
    Literally one rhyzome that takes and grows will give ample flower production to make several batches of beer (even DIPAs and greater than 10 gallon batches.) But thats not until the plant is 3 years old.

    Edit Edit:
    The first 2 years are fun with building anticipation. When you finally get a good yield it can be daunting. I have 7 plants and honestly only harvest from 2 because its too much work picking and drying for 1 person. I hosted a hop picking party last year where I fed everyone free beer/food and we hardly got 2 plants picked.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017
  4. Saugusbrewer

    Saugusbrewer AKA lucas1801

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Location:
    Saugus
    As mentioned year 3 is when you will get the bounty, the hops will also be more consistent with AA levels. If you use hops from the first 2 years, they would be best as late addition or dry hops.
     
  5. BadJustin

    BadJustin Moderator Staff Member

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    Fun fact: young Hop shoots are edible and tasty.
     
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  6. Saugusbrewer

    Saugusbrewer AKA lucas1801

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Location:
    Saugus
    Hops can also be poisonous to dogs, so if you have one keep them away.
     
  7. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster

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    May 21, 2015
    Location:
    Denver
    How young are we talking? Mine seem to develop the spines fairly quickly and I have a hard time imagining that is a delightful texture in the mouth.
     
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  8. BadJustin

    BadJustin Moderator Staff Member

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    Well given they literally can grow 1"-2" overnight, new, baby shoots. Ramps get pretty gnarly after a couple days, hope are no different.
     
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  9. OldMetalGuy

    OldMetalGuy

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2016
    Location:
    Beaver Falls, PA
    I appreciate all of the replies

    I think I might cheat this first year, and see if I can get a couple plants as well as a couple rizomes, and get a little jump start on things.

    I have an area in mind already I can use, one question that I haven't found an answer is, how high do they get?

    I envision putting 2 6x6's in, one on each end of the row, and using a small diameter cable between them (so I can crank it tight and not have it sag), then I can adjust the dropping twine lines wherever I need them to be.

    How high should the top line be? 4 feet or higher?

    the other question I have is, since I'm selfish ;), what kind to grow if I want a stout as the finished product, and what is a good 2nd choice to grow for whomever will be brewing what I grow? (call it the bribe :) ) probably something that turns into an ipa?
     
  10. BadJustin

    BadJustin Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Not even close, Triple that, for a start. :) Good thing is they can be trained to really grow on and around everything, much like grapes were grown back in the day. I came from an old Italian neighborhood though.
     
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  11. YungCoolship

    YungCoolship

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2017
    Location:
    Down on the Farm
    I'm on my third year growing centennial, cascade, and nugget. I have been pretty much letting them grow rampant without much thought to pruning/maintenance outside of light watering and training them to catch the rope. Any tips on pruning that will help the end yields?
     
  12. rcubed

    rcubed

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    Cut off any of the weaker shoots that are popping up. More energy for the large bines that are climbing and going to be producing more flowers.
     
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  13. vav

    vav

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Location:
    Chicago
    First harvest was today so here are some pics. I have two Nugget plants. This is 2nd year growth.

     
  14. quirkzoo

    quirkzoo

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    Hired some day laborers to help with Hop Harvest 2018

    [​IMG]
     
  15. rcubed

    rcubed

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    Friday my Centennial and Chinook hops went from bine to kettle. Got a decent yield considering they are first year plants and the shoots got fried in the heat and didn’t reach their full height.
     
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