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:
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:
Earlier in the season we had trimmed the base of the hops. This does two things:
- First it causes the plant to “bolt” which is to throw out side runners which encourage more higher growth.
- 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.
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:
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:
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.