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Hop Gardening Help? Yellow Leaf Diagnosis?

I’m hoping more experienced hop gardeners or gardeners in general might be familiar with this. I’ve got 10 varieties of hops growing on a hill with good sun, fairly well draining soil. It’s a clay base, but I dug each plant a heck of a big basin and filled that with better soil. Some of my hops are going gangbusters, big green leaves, tall. All are first years. The Galena is probably 12 feet tall.

Unfortunately, most were abused because they had to be moved for a landscaping job, and then a huge storm dumped tree limbs all over them, squashing them all flat.

While most have bounced back and a few are thriving, some, like this Fuggles, are showing a lot of yellow foliage, mostly or all in new growth. I’ve hit them with ironite, which turned around some that were quite yellow. They seem to be growing fairly well despite the yellow new growth, but not as well as those that are the deeper green.

I water every evening because it’s been 90+ degrees here all summer. Or maybe that’s it. Maybe the fuggles just doesn’t like the heat?

I think you’ve got it right there. The lower alpha plants don’t like the heat (Fuggles, Cascades, etc.) and since this crazy hot weather crap was all over, there’s probably going to be a shortage on some of these things. The higher alpha plants like it for some reason. Hence why your Galena is thriving.

At my house, I’ve got 3 different kinds of hops growing. Centennial, Cascade, and Columbus. Guess which one is thriving?

The whole smear, for comparison.

Still more of the crop. These plants are 3-5 feet apart from each other in the same soil under the same light. The variation in growth is interesting and a bit frustrating.

Moving along…

And finally…

I guess I should look at the bright side, which is that these plants, which have been through a really crummy first-year season, are all still alive and kicking, and most are flowering and continue reaching for the sky. I’d just like to fix what can be fixed if possible. According to some of what I’ve seen online, those yellowed bits look like they could be a nitrogen deficiency, which wouldn’t surprise me given the lousy clay soil, despite my efforts to sweeten it up with rotted compost, etc. I’ll be getting a soil PH tester soon, maybe that will yield some clues as to whether the soil’s too basic to let the nutrients, such as they are, hit the plants.

With them all being first years, I wouldn’t read into what they are doing now to say what’s gonna happen down the line. I’d imagine that the size and condition of the rhizome has as much to do with what you’re seeing as anything else. A soil test and research might also help if you want to fertilize. As a hobbyist grower with a dozen or more varieties in the ground myself, I encourage you to track your production annually (oz. dry hops per hill) for each variety. If enough of us growers do this, we might get some idea of what varieties do well geographically at the small scale. I put my data up last year, and plan to do the same this year.

How can I refuse a data request from my favorite drinking writer? I will put up some results when the season’s over, since there are probably others in Northern Virginia who’d be interested in knowing what the jungle weather and crummy clay soil can support.

Those yellowed leaves, newer growth, look like textbook iron problems from what I’ve seen all over teh internetz. I finally got a soil PH tester so that might give me some info too. Even the yellowish ones are still pretty much growing like weeds, and most have flowered by now, which I still find amazing given the abuse the poor buggers got. I’ve got some pinkie-nail-sized cones on my Galena by now.

I’ll probably order a few types that are a bit tougher next year and work them into the area, and see how things compare.

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