Homebrewing Blog and Resource

Homegrown Hops Harvesting

After 4 months of growing hops in the backyard, I was able to reap the benefits of homegrown hops.  All the spiny flowers transformed into cones very quickly and grew and grew until they started to dry out a bit on the bine.

Maybe I’m lucky, but I was able to get some cones from the first year of the bine.

Homegrown Hops Harvest Hops Harvest 2010

I have been picking the cones in batches.  I started with the ones that were are the top of the bines first.  They were pretty big and seemed to be more mature than the ones lower down…probably because they got more sun.

I still have hops on the bine to pick but I will get to them once they are ready.

Here are some things that I learned along the way:

  • I watered mine with a light sprinkle every day, especially in the early months.  My bines did pretty well with frequently watering.

  • I did use some plant fertilizer every couple of weeks.  The plant reacted well to it.

  • Get as much sun on the plant as possible.  Find a spot where it can get 8 to 10 hours of sun a day.  We had a really sunny, dry summer this year.  I think it was the biggest factor in the plant’s success.

  • Let it grow.  I did some pruning of the lower leaves in late July.  I am not sure it was necessary.  The more I just let the plant grow in all kinds of directions, the more flowers bloomed…and the more cones I got.

 If you like to follow along on this homegrown hops odyssey, start in May and work your way up:

May Hops Update

June Hops Update

July Hops Update

August Hops Update

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5 Comments

  1. Jack

    I harvested my first year hops yesterday, too! I planted Spalt Select, Willamette, Kent Golding, and Centennial. I got very little cones this year, but I’m not bummed about it. After drying them I got about 6.5 grams of spalt and 1.5 grams of Centennial. The other two plants had no flowers or cones.

    My vegetal growth was reasonable, though, especially for such a dry summer. They grew to about 9′ to 12′. When I harvested I just plucked the cones; I didn’t cut the bines. I want to leave the bines up until they die back in the fall to allow as much photosynthetic energy to get to the roots as possible to set me up for a real harvest next year.

    Any suggestions on what to do with 1/4 ounce of hops? I dried, sucky-thinged, and froze them. I’m guessing I can use them for aroma on something light, maybe a wheat beer.

  2. Yep, my bines grew to about 10 feet and then stopped. I think I will leave the bines going until the frost kills them and then I will cut them back.

    Yeah, I would use them real late in the boil. You might as well use them to see what kind of effect they have on your beer.

  3. Mine got destroyed by hail in June. I was sure it was hopeless. They recovered very well. So far I picked 6 ounces of nice firm hops. I used them in a pale ale. Nice.

  4. New to your blog. I like reading about your hops adventure. We’re considering starting our own yeast. Maybe hops will be in our future as well.

  5. Hey Chemgeek,

    I am glad they rallied!

    Hi Samantha,

    Good luck with your yeast cultivating. Hopefully it goes well.

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