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First year grower needs help - what now?

I planted six varieties in early June. I had gotten starter plants and put them in pots until my raised garden and trellis were built at my new house. The hops to a while to adjust plus the intense heat wave in the east this summer, they were really slow to take off. However, the last 6 weeks or so, they have really taken off. The only one not doing well is the Willamette which started ok, appeared to be ready to die, but is slowly showing signs of life.

Anyway, I have 5 varietes that vary from 10-15’ tall in the first year. All have flowered and have actual hops. Chinook and Cascade appear almost ready to harvest. I won’t get a lot off of these plants, but probably enough to add to 1 or two batches in my first year, so I am pretty happy.

Questions are:

  1. At what point do they stop “producing”? Will these keep going into the fall, or do they shut off when temps get low at night? How low.
  2. Do I just let them die back or do I cut them back? If the latter, when?
  3. What do I have to do over the winter (I am in Maryland with moderate snow but potential cold)
  4. Any fall fertilizer or feeding necessary?

Sorry if these are noob hopper questions

I also am a first year hop grower. I planted two rhizomes in early May. They grew like crazy. I’ve harvested both plants now and surprisingly I ended up with about 16oz after they were dried. I wasn’t expecting this much from what I read about first year harvests.

I’d also like to know what other more experienced hop growers have to say about the “what now” after the first year.

  1. They’ll continue to try to produce cones from the more recently emerged shoots but they won’t have time to come to maturity. In their first year they’ll do all sorts of crazy things. Hops are very dependent on sunlight duration and after they’re established they tend to grow vegetatively as the days get longer. Once they start getting shorter, the cones really start to kick in. WHEN you train them will also influence when they begin to flower. The commercial hop farmers normally cut back the first flush of growth, for various cultural reasons and also to aid in making sure that they all come ripe at the same time.

  2. Just allow the vines to die back naturally. As long as there’s green vegetation the plant can still turn sunlight into food energy for itself and being that the plants aren’t actively growing at this point, the food produced will be sent back down into the crown to be stored for next year’s growth. This is one big benefit we have over the commercial growers.

  3. Hops are very durable plants and can withstand frozen ground without a problem. A good layer of mulch before Winter is always a good idea. If they don’t get some sort of cover and if you have a very cold Winter there’s a possibility of some of the exposed buds to desiccate. That’s really no problem as there are many many more that have formed lower on the crown this past growing season to replace them.

  4. I can’t speak for everyone else but I’ve found a Fall topdressing with compost helps to give them a little insulation and also slowly breaks down to release it’s nutrients and also aids in improving the soil at the same time.

You’ll notice a big difference between the first and second seasons as this year, they were busy trying to establish roots, grow some shoots and also put some flowers out. Next year they can concentrate on the last two because they’ve developed all the roots they need this year. Have fun!

Thank you, just what I was looking for.

Now that the weather has cooled down, will the newly formed hops continue to mature and become usable? When do they stop?

[quote=“B-Hoppy”]1) They’ll continue to try to produce cones from the more recently emerged shoots but they won’t have time to come to maturity. In their first year they’ll do all sorts of crazy things. Hops are very dependent on sunlight duration and after they’re established they tend to grow vegetatively as the days get longer. Once they start getting shorter, the cones really start to kick in. WHEN you train them will also influence when they begin to flower. The commercial hop farmers normally cut back the first flush of growth, for various cultural reasons and also to aid in making sure that they all come ripe at the same time.
/quote]

You guys are lucky. I planted two Glacier rhizomes earlier this year and I only have about 5 feet of growth out of them, no cones. The two Willamettes that I planted didn’t sprout. So I’m just hoping that they’re getting the roots established this year and next year will be hops everywhere.

I’m probably lucky that anything worked. The order arrived here before it was decent outside, and I left the box on the dining room table for a few weeks until I got around to putting them in the ground. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’ll probably order a couple more next spring and keep them in the fridge until the ground is ready to plant.

Yea, I think I got lucky for the first year, especially considering the weather we had this summer.

I am just trying to figure out of the hop that are on the bines that are not yet ripe, will finish or if they are done now that it is almost October

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