Worst year for hops EVER!

So I have to say that this year was not stellar by any means.  It was a combination of things that caused problems.  First, my time was stretched to other projects and I probably didn’t give the hops enough attention.  We started out well enough, the weather was damp at first followed by long days of sun right up until about a week or so before Pennsic Wars.  Then this happened:

HopCrash  Yup, a big wind came along and boom, down she falls.

We were not pleased, mostly because it was still raining and the ground had the consistency of oatmeal after it’s sat a couple hours in the bowl.  We did manage to get it back up again:

HopCrash2  As you can see, the damage was done.  Everytime hops hit the ground they “bruise”.  Not in the true sense but they register that strike and get a brown rot started.

brownhops This can hurt your crop because the brown ones can give your beer a weedy taste.  You want to avoid these at all costs.

Earlier in the season we had trimmed the base of the hops.  This does two things:

  1. First it causes the plant to “bolt” which is to throw out side runners which encourage more higher growth.
  2. It deters caterpillar and cutworm from climbing the vines.  They tend to think there’s no food above so they turn around and come back down.

HopCrash3  This was done back on June 21,2013/ Wasn’t quite finished yet but you get the idea.  Apparently it wasn’t enough because pretty soon we started seeing this:

318071_10150934405091702_1111088601_n Caterpillars and Cutworms were having a field day.  I try not to use pesticides on my hops because I don’t want to ingest them but also my hops are worth more if I can qualify them as Organic.  Although I probably should have sprayed more hot pepper sauce on the plants to deter the little buggers.

After Pennsic the weather turned.  We got lots of rain and less sun than I would have liked.  The hop trellis fell down again due to thunderstorms yesterday and I decided that instead of attempting another trellis erection, we’d instead just cut the vines and collect the hops.  The 2 bushes of hops in the backyard behind this trellis were in fine shape so I left them alone.  I’ll pick those this weekend.  Regardless we still got some hops although not the quantity I would have liked:

This was 2012301849_10150292692801702_4488134_n  myhopsThis is 2013


Last year we got the equivelant of 7 gallons of fresh hops.  This year, I’ve picked 3 gallons with a possible other 2 gallon from the other two bushes which are still intact.  Total loss probably about 2 gallons from last year and this years crop average hop size is the size of a quarter where last years hops were the size of  a thumb.  The bigger they are, the more of the bittering agent is in them and the more concentrated flavoring you’ll see:

301449_10150292711346702_3913770_n Check out those Luplin Glands!

Cross-section drawing of a hop cone

Cross-section drawing of a hop cone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before next year starts, I plan to update the rigging to 2012 standards and heap a lot of the chicken manure on the hop bed in anticipation of next years crop.