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Canton, NC Hops Project.  Hops - Growing Hops - Hops Rhizomes - Beer Hops

Part 1

July 25, 2014 by Rick Morris:

So, I just placed my order for my first hops rhizomes.  I have about 1/8th of an acre garden, and I plan to use a portion of it his year as a micro-hop yard, no more than a row or two of hops plants.  My goal is to learn as much as I can about growing hops.  I will be performing a study similar to that being done at the Mills River experimental hop yard.  I want to discover which hops grow well in my area.  And I will provide that data as the year(s) progresses.

Types of Hops

To get started, I ordered (from Asheville Brewer's Supply) the following types and amounts of hops:

Variety of Hops # of
Cascade 4  
Chinook 4  
Centennial 2  
Columbus 2  
Goldings 1 As mentioned below, one of my Goldings plants died early after placing it in the ground.  Not sure as yet what caused it.  Possibly one of my dogs relieved himself on it!
Northern Brewer 2  
Nugget 2  
Tettnang 2  
Willamette 2  



So, it's the end of March and our rhizomes have arrived.  After a couple weeks, our land has not been plowed as yet, so we have decided to plant the hops (for now) in containers. 

April 7, 2013:  Hops are in the containers. Here are some nice pictures of that...

Close-up photo of hops growing in containers - These are just planted.  We will move them to the ground in a few weeks when the temperatures are steady above 40 degrees F.

Another photo of planters containing recently planted hops/hop rhizomes.

A picture of several containers of newly-planted hop rhizomes.

End of April (?) 2013 - I can't remember the exact date, but it was near the 30th.  Anyway, the hops had to come inside for the evening as the temperatures were to drop (and did) below freezing that night...

Image of all my hops, in their containers, in the house.  The temperature fell below freezing this night.

May 3, 2013 - Here are some shots of the hops a few weeks later...

A picture of Tettnang Hops as they have sprouted about 6 inches.   Another picture of hops.  These are Sterling hops, just as they are sprouting.  I have since pruned them to three of the best sprouts.

May 7, 2013 - I have decided to get the hops in the ground.  I have chosen several locations around the house, including lined against the South wall.  Here you can see four types, each being trained on strings that reach about 14 - 15 feet in height...

A side view of the three hops plants and their associated strings.

Here is a close look at a couple of the hops plants and their strings on which they will grow.  These are planned to grow the height of the house, about 14 feet at the top.

And, one that I'm going to experiment with by growing diagonally along the edge of the porch, up to the top, and perhaps horizontally towards the front (which will probably be necessary). I plan to work the bines so one goes to the right along the railing, as well as follow the string to the left and up...

A photo of newly planted hops, which are starting to work their way up the string.

Here is a rendering of the house location...

A rendering/strip map showing where hops are located near the house.

Most of the hops - 15 plants consisting of 7 varieties - are planted in my quickly-crafted  garden...

A view of my "hop yard".  There are 15 plants here, separated every three plants with a 7-foot tall pole.

These hops are growing on a string system with poles that are just 7 feet in height.  In that the hops were beginning to get out of control in the containers, I had no choice but to get them in the ground (I haven't had time or help as yet to set up the 14 - 16 feet hop yard).  Fortunately, I had these landscape timbers lying around and decided to put them to good use.  But,  in a couple weeks, when I have time, I'll head over to the home improvement store and pick out 6 or 8 poles of larger height, probably about 16-feet poles.  I plan to create a trellis system that I can climb - or at least lean a ladder against without fear of toppling over!  But, I still haven't decided as yet how I will be laying out the hop yard - two rows or just one?  One thing is certain... I won't have much time as I expect these hops to really start growing now that we are well into May!

The overhead cord is a nylon rope, about 1/3 inch in size.  I have u-shaped nails along the top of each pole, through which the cord runs.  A couple rebar posts, each about 2 feet in length, are driven in the ground at the ends, and the cord is secured to them.  Bailing string is connected for each plant.  Each hop plant is covered with an amount of mulch...

A close-up view of the hops plants surrounded by mulch.  You can also see the pole/string set I am using.

A view looking East, with the one drinking buddy who never complains, Lizzie...

Another view of the "hop yard".

And, here is a rendering of the garden location...

A rendering/strip map showing where hops are located in the garden location.

May 13, 2013:  So, we had a cold night, near freezing temperatures.  I came up with the following idea of protecting the plants (Note: May 2014 - I've since discovered this was completely unnecessary)...

This photo shows paper grocery bags covering my hops plants.  It was going to get down to freezing this night, so I just wanted to provide some protection to my recently sprouted hops plants.

May 16, 2013: It is with great sadness that I report one of my hop plants has wilted and died. Three months to the day since I ordered my hops.  It was the Golding variety, but I don't think that had anything to do with it, since my other Golding, still in the pot, is thriving. So, I decided to take out the dead and replace with the living. In doing so, I noticed there were literally hundreds of these "beetle" larvae in the soil around the plant. So, I think I discovered the source of the hop plant's death. I just don't know what these little buggers are. Anyone? They are white/clear in color, have a head and a abdomen. As I said, they appear to be baby beetle larvae, already with their little pincers. I cleaned out the area and tossed the dirt and larvae out. Forgot to take a photo. I'll see if some are still present and try to snap a pic.

Update: OK, so I grabbed a handful of the dirt and took a closeup of these little bastards. They are about the size of small maggot, no more than 1/8 inch in length...

Here is a closeup photo of the little beetle critters I found in my Goldings hops plant, in the soil.

Thought they are Japanese Beetles, but have since been corrected by my friends over at the Northern Brewer forum.  They are termites.  Probably didn't have anything to do with my dead hops plant.  Just happened upon them while digging up the plant.

Continue reading about the Canton, NC Hops project in Part 2...


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