Year 5 of growing hops has proved to be a banner year for the harvest. My brother and I have finally have a yield that measures up to the ones I have read about online.
It didn’t start out that way. The death of my Cascade hops plant was a big setback, but we didn’t give up. The weather was great this summer and our experience helped to turn it around.
Magnum Hops Recap
This year was an experimental year for the Magnum hops. The first change going into this growing season was the elimination of the big tree that was near the plant and was used for the hops to climb up to their full height of 18 feet. Earlier, I wrote about the temporary trellis that I built for it, which worked ok but can be improved for next year.
The other change was my deliberate cutting back of the first shoots of the spring and allowing only 16 bines to grow to maturity. I have seen instructions on paper and online that say to cut the plant back. I don’t think I will do that again. Letting the plant grow as much as possible seems to work better than cutting it back. Now that I have tried both methods, I know what works.
I will probably get a couple of ounces from the Magnum plant. I am fine with that since they are a bittering hop and I don’t need that much to make a nice harvest ale. Next year will be a different story with an improved trellis and a live and let live strategy.
Mt. Hood Hops Recap
So this is the plant to brag about. My brother and I spent 2 hours picking cones last Saturday and I think we only harvested a third of them.
Take a look at the monster:
My brother watered this plant every other day for fifteen minutes. He had a soaker hose attached to a timer. People told me not to water hops plants that much. I have to say that is a silly notion. Every other day works excellently. He let all the bines reach maturity and most of them produced cones.
One of the cones was huge. Look how big it is in my hand:
Again, we didn’t harvest them all in one afternoon. The paper bag that I brought over to collect the cones was halfway filled when I left. Spread out on a screen to dry, this is what they looked like:
Ok – so you too can grow hops at home. Find a sunny spot in your yard and keep these three thing in mind.
1. Let them grow. Don’t cut them back.
2. Water them every other day.
3. Give them enough rope to climb.
Believe me, you can do it too.
I hope to have a great harvest ale brewing in the next month or two.