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Hop Cone Side Matter?

Does the size of a hop cone (Cascade) matter to harvest? I think I have some ready, but don’t want to harvest too early, it is only Mid August (I live in Ohio).

The size is what it is. It’s more dependent on growing conditions. What you want to look for are cones that are papery and starting to brown. If you’re not sure whether to harvest, leave them longer. The best smelling cones I’ve had are always the ones I allowed to age longer on the bine.

I thought I read somewhere that if they start to brown that you shouldn’t use them.

I thought I read somewhere that if they start to brown that you shouldn’t use them.[/quote]

You have to catch it just as the first hint of brown appears.

I thought I read somewhere that if they start to brown that you shouldn’t use them.[/quote]

Never heard that before. You don’t want them to rot, but I wouldn’t touch them until they started to brown.

I don’t really know where the whole ‘brown’ (as an indication of ripeness) thing came to be. When I buy hops I find very few of them to have any brown on them at all. Sometimes at harvest there are a few brown ones but that can be caused by quite a few different things, wind burn, disease etc… Once the plants are mature, the cone size at harvest is usually pretty uniform with the exception of a stray vine or two that came up after they’ve been trained. These will generally have cones that are slightly behind, developmentally, and are a little bit smaller. This is one of the reasons the growers try to get them all trained at pretty much the same time. Long story short, pick 'em when they’re ripe!

From the NJ Agricutural experment station. Rutgers Cooporative research and extension. Fact Sheet 992

"How do you know when your hops are ready to be picked?

Both feel and smell are involved. If the hop cone is not ripe it will feel soft, slightly damp to the touch, and remain compressed when squeezed. Ripe hop cones will feel light and dry, and spring back when squeezed. When ripe the lupulin glands at the base of the cone petals will have a golden yellow color and a sticky residue that is fragrant when squeezed. Proper drying and storage is also essential for a successful hop harvest."

i wouldn’t worry about the brown aspect of the cone being there or not being there as long as they meet the defination above.

Well I’m not advocating that cones must be brown. But a little brown does not hurt them, and new growers tend to pick too early. Cones that are picked too early will have less AA% and less aroma. Waiting until you see a bit of brown is a little insurance that you haven’t picked them too early IMO. I, for one, would sooner pick too late than too early.

Sniff them and try to wait until the aroma peaks. Compare what you smell to the intensity of commercially-grown hops. Don’t focus on size or color.

I’m also a proponent of letting them hang until you see a brown leaf or two on the hops. The first two years I harvested earlier and got little bitterness. When I let them go longer I got commercial strength results.

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