The Life Cycle of a Hop

The Steps of
Growing Your
Very Own Hops
Created by Ryan Quinn
Step 1: Location
 Select
a sunny location that receives at
least 6 hours of sunlight per day. A southfacing location is ideal. The planting site
needs ample room for a large trellis to
support the mature hops plant.
Step 2: Cultivation
 Add
abundant aged manure to the soil.
The soil should feel crumbly to the touch.
The planting site must be well-draining
because the hop plant will not tolerate
standing water around its root
system. A soil pH of 6.5 to 8.0 is
Step 3: Planting
 Plant
hops rhizomes 4 inches deep in a 1foot-high mound of soil in the spring. Plant
the roots of the rhizome facing
downwards. Plant rhizomes 3 to 5 feet
apart, depending on the variety.
 Mulch around the hop plant with 2 to 3
inches of mulch. Use peat moss, bark
chips, or straw.
Step 4: Building a Trellis
 Erect
a large, sturdy trellis next to the
hops. Many people use a strong fence
line as a trellis or poles with rope woven
between them.
Step 5: Pruning
Choose the largest stems from the plant to
begin training on the trellis. The stems always
grows in a clockwise direction. Attach the
hop stems by weaving them into the trellis or
attach them with a light cotton string. Over
the course of approximately a week the hop
plant learns to climb the trellis on its own. Only
allow the strongest and healthiest shoots to
climb the trellis. Prune the weak shoots off at
ground level.
Step 6: Watering
 Water
the hops plant regularly. The plant
should never be allowed to completely
dry out. In warm climates, daily watering
might be required as the plant is a heavy
drinker. Use a drip-irrigation watering
system or a soaker hose so the foliage of
the hop plant does not become wet. Wet
foliage can cause powdery mildew.
Step 7: Fertilization
 Fertilize
three times from March to July
using nitrogen. Apply 3 pounds for every
1,000 square feet of garden space.
Step 8: Harvesting
Hops will mature and be ready for
harvest in mid-August to September. If
these are first year hops, expect a small
harvest. They use most of their energy
developing their root system which makes
it difficult for the cones to reach their
peak yield. Expect a full harvest in
second year hop gardens
Step 8: Harvesting (cont.)
A ripe, mature cone will be springy, dry and
sticky to the touch, have a strong hop odor
and a visible thick yellow substance known as
lupulin. A cone that has not quite reached
maturity will feel moist and stay compressed
when squeezed. There will also be no visible
yellow powder. When a cone has passed this
test, cut it vertically and inspect the inside. It
should be full of a yellow sticky substance.
Step 9: Cutting the Vine
When harvesting by cutting down the
vines, wait until most of the cones are ripe
and cut the vines two to three feet from
the ground. This prevents injury to the
roots and crown. Then the cones are
hand picked off the vines. Dispose of the
vine by burning or using for a craft
Step 10: Drying
 Use
a food dehydrator, oven, window
screen or home-made dryer. Remember,
good airflow is very important and the
temperature of the dryer must not exceed
140 degrees F. If using a window screen,
spread hops out evenly and place screen
off the ground in an enclosed area free of
wind, light and bugs. The hop cones must
be turned daily.
Step 10: Drying (cont.)
This process should take two to three
days. When the hops are dried
completely and properly, they will be
springy to the touch and the yellow
lupulin will fall off easily. Check the
central stem. It should break not bend. It
is very important that the hops are
thoroughly dry before storage because
they can become moldy, wilted, or even
Step 11: Storing Your Hops
To store hops, place them into a plastic
freezer bag or a food saver bag. Once
sealed and labeled store in the freezer.
Never thaw then refreeze hops as it can
compromise their quality and freshness.
Step 12: Repeat
 Because
hops are perennial crops, the
plants grow back every year on their own
if you cut the vine properly and keep the
soil and roots intact. The cold
temperatures of winter will not have an
effect on the plants. All you’ll have to do
before the plants start growing again is
hanging new ropes for the vines to grow
on to.
The End
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