Canton, NC Hops Project. Hops - Growing Hops - Hops Rhizomes - Beer Hops
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July 25, 2014 by
So, I'm really starting to
see the hops appearing on the bines. Some plants have
performed exceptionally well, while others are not producing
at all. Here are some images...
2013 Hops Growing Results
Essentially, I learned a lot about growing hops in this,
my first year. The most important lesson is that hops
grow best on a 20-foot tall line, as opposed to a partial
vertical and horizontal configuration. Some hops
performed better than others. Not sure if this is
because of their location (i.e. beside the house on a tall
growing line, or in the open garden on a horizontal setup.
Clearly, the winners - regardless of location or type of hop
- were the ones that had maximum vertical growth.
Having observed that, I will create a 14-foot trellis system
for all my plants located in the garden. The others
are situated by the house and some of these will receive a
trellis as well. I would prefer to go 20 feet high,
but that is going to be an eye sore on my property. 14
feet will suffice and should produce well for me.
"The most important lesson is that
hops grow best on a 20-foot tall line, as opposed to a
partial vertical and horizontal configuration."
The best producing hop varieties in my Canton, North
Carolina hops growing project were Chinook, Nugget, Cascade,
and Sterling. The Chinook I have growing up my front
porch faces the Eastern sky and was the best performer of
the lot. Morning sun, perhaps has something to do with
that? Willemette, Columbus, and Northern Brewer were
the worst performers. Of course, these may eventually
do well given optimum growing conditions. For example,
these all were initially among the smaller of the rhizomes I
received. Next, each of these were grown up 7-foot
strings before being guided horizontally. But, the
more likely reason these didn't perform as well could be
that these were located at the far-end of the garden and
were often being "enjoyed" by the local ground hog (prairie
dog) early on. I'm thinking this limited their initial
growth. Accordingly, I'll ensure all the garden hops
plants receive a protective barrier of chicken wire in
addition to the new trellis. I should then be able to
determine their true growth abilities this year (2014).
"The best producing hop varieties
in my Canton, North Carolina hops growing project were
Chinook, Nugget, Cascade, and Sterling."
Having said all that, I did get a total of about 6 or 8
dried ounces of hops from all these plants. That was
enough to learn some drying techniques. After drying,
they were bagged and placed in the freezer.
Unfortunately, I never used them in any brews. I was
worried about their discoloration and lack of aromas and
In summary, I learned that growing hops is fairly easy.
A tall growing system is best. Use strong twine as the
vines do get heavy by July/August - especially after a good
rain. Since I have only 20 plants, I'll probably go
with parachute cord this year.
Be a good baby sitter during the early growing stages.
Keep an eye on watering. Know that hops can be deadly
to pets, including certain breeds of dogs. Mulch the
hops to reduce weed/grass growth. Develop a fencing
system to keep out unwanted critters. Watch out for
the stinging Saddleback "caterpillar" bug when harvesting!
Dry your hops as quickly as possible using a tried
method. You will want them to reach a certain dryness
within about 24 hours. Anything longer than that can
reduce the bitterness and aroma levels.
Store your freshly dried hops in a sealed container
(plastic zip-tight bag is what we use) inside a brown paper
bag, inside the freezer. This year, I'm going to try
to arrange for brewing several batches using hops from the
On a secondary note, I allowed my hops vines to remain on
the strings through fall and winter. I've heard this
allows saps/nutrients to work their way back down to the
rhizomes, providing food for the plant during the winter.
I read somewhere that some growers simple cut or mow over
them a week or so after harvesting. But, I figured
that in the wild, this is how hops plants grow, die, and
re-grow year after year.
My hops should live 20 or 30 years, as I'm told.
And, they will produce more and more each year as the root
structure develops. I'm hoping to get at least a few
pounds this year (2014). But, under optimum conditions
(location, soil, hop variety, rain schedule, etc.) plenty of
hop varieties can produce 1 to 2 pounds of dried hops each
year. Some have done twice that!
April 8, 2014 - The hops are starting to spout for
their second year. I have installed a taller growth system
of poles for the garden hops and the three next to the
house. To see what is happening, continue reading
about the 2014
hops growing season here.