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What's Hoppening: Musings from the Hopyard!

Training Days for Hops

Posted: May 29th, 2015 by hoppenin

In commercial hop yards, different cultivars are trained on specific dates in the spring.  Depending on whether a cultivar matures early, mid-season, or late, there is typically a particular range of days for those plants to start their upward growth. Getting the bines off the ground is also important for managing downy mildew.

Training hops at Borderview Research Farm.

Training hops at Borderview Research Farm.

Training dates have not been formally identified for the Northeast region. We trained our hops at the Borderview Research Farm in Alburg this week (Tuesday, 5/26) while some other hop growers reported that they completed their training on 5/19.

We recommend that you make your own observations of hop maturity and write down when you trained each hop cultivar (down the road, we hope to have funds to conduct in-depth research on this important topic).

When training, each string should have 3 or 4 bines. The bines should be trained clockwise as the plants grow towards the sun over the course of each day, winding themselves up the string.

Remember that hop plants can grow 1 foot per day–that’s 6 inches before lunch! Because some varieties mature a  little slower than others, our crew will make another sweep around the hop yard to train any later maturing plants in about a week.

At this time of year, it is also critical to irrigate and fertilize. More on that topic coming soon. Until then, stay calm and hop on.

Time to Manage Downy Mildew

Posted: May 22nd, 2015 by hoppenin

Question: Have we mentioned yet how critical downy mildew management is to the success of our Northeast hopyards?

Answer: Yes, but the importance of managing this disease cannot be overstated–downy mildew can wipe out your crop for the year and even cause hill death in sensitive varieties, so please be on the lookout. Our bulletin, Managing Downy Mildew in Hops in the Northeast, provides some pointers on identifying symptoms and management options.

Yesterday (5/22), our UVM Extension NWCS crew retrieved these “specimens” from our hopyard:

Leaf infected with downy mildew.

Leaf infected with downy mildew.

Here, we compare a shoot infected with downy mildew (left) with a healthy shoot (right).

Here, we compare a shoot infected with downy mildew (left) with a healthy shoot (right).






















Downy mildew protection and early-season fertility

Posted: May 11th, 2015 by hoppenin

F18 Hop N Uptake

Hop N uptake over the season. Oregon State University, 1992. Link to the source article at end of post.

Are your hops already skyrocketing out of the ground? Ours are! While it might seem that there isn’t much to do until the hops are ready for training, it is important to be vigilant in fighting disease.

This week we plan to spray Champ WG copper-based fungicide on our yard as a preventative measure against downy mildew. The disease is now capable of releasing zoospores, which leave from infected tissue and spread to other shoots and plants. Since the plants are small, it is easy to cover the whole plant, reducing the amount of downy mildew spores that are spread, and making life much easier later in the season.

Many fungicides labeled for hops will have an early-season application recommendation. Check your label for that information.

While most nitrogen uptake will happen in June, July, and August, it is still important to supply some early N to your hops so that they can have fertility there when they need it. This week we will apply enough fertilizer to deliver 50lbs of nitrogen per acre. We recommend supplying 75lbs/acre of nitrogen to first-year hops over the course of the season and 150lbs/acre for all subsequent years.

For more detailed guidance on hop fertility, read this great paper from Oregon State on hop nutrient needs: OSU Hop Fertility

Spring Crowning

Posted: May 4th, 2015 by hoppenin

The hop season is upon us!

Hop downy mildew is currently the biggest pest of concern for Northeastern hop growers.  Downy mildew overwinters in the hop crown and primary inoculum will be released from the first shoots. Removal of the first flush of spring hop growth is called “scratching” or “crowning” depending on how far down a plant is cut. Shoot removal is used as an early season preventative measure against downy mildew and as a way of managing harvest time.  Hop plants have been budding out for a few weeks now in Vermont.

1st  year hop yards should not be crowned to allow for root establishment.

2nd year hop yards should be crowned if downy mildew was a problem last season.

3rd year hop yards should be crowned.

One of the following three methods can be used to kill back the top 1/2-1 inch of each plant.

1. Mechanically cutting (Figures 1 and 2).

2. Flaming. It has been DRY so please be careful not to burn down your hop yard.

3. Herbicide application. Make sure any pesticide used in your hop yard is labeled for use in your state and on hops.

The goal of crowning is to manage disease but also to make vegetative and reproductive growth consistent across the yard and from season to season.  In our 2014 crowning date study we found that there was no difference in hop quality or yield between plants cut back on April 14th and May 12th. Hop plants cut back by 5/9 will be able to reach the top of the trellis by June 21 when the plants enter their reproductive growth stage, assuming the plants have sun, water, and nutrients.

Buds before mechanical crowning.

Buds before mechanical crowning.


Plant after mechanical crowning.

In this video, Dr. Heather Darby describes what downy mildew is, and some warning signs to look for when evaluating your hop plants.

Good luck!





Getting Started with Hops

Posted: April 10th, 2015 by hoppenin

nfnAs part of the Vermont New Farmer Project’s ongoing webinar series, on 4/8/2015, Heather Darby provided an introductory presentation on how to get started with growing hops. Here presentation included establishment considerations, soil fertility, variety selection, pest management, and harvesting tips. The webinar recording is available on our Northwest Crops and Soils Program YouTube channel at: https://youtu.be/SrSoy5wry3w



Getting Started with Growing Hops Webinar (4/8/15)

Posted: March 27th, 2015 by hoppenin

nfnAs part of the Vermont New Farmer Project’s ongoing webinar series, UVM Extension’s Heather Darby will provide an introductory presentation on how to get started with growing hops. This will include setting up a trellis system, soil fertility, variety selection, pest management, harvesting, and post-harvest management.

The webinar is free, but pre-registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Beth Holtzman at 802-223-2389 or 800-866-1632 by April 6 so we may assist you.

Online Proceedings from 2015 VT Hop Conference Now Available

Posted: March 25th, 2015 by hoppenin

hop-branchProceedings from the 6th Annual Vermont Hop Conference are now available online. The online proceedings include video recordings and PDFs of all conference presentations. They can be accessed for a one-time fee of $35 at eXtension’s Online campus at: http://campus.extension.org. If you have not yet been to this site, you will need to create an account. To do so, on the left bar under “Login,” click on “Create new account.” You will need to complete some basic information and confirm your account via email.  Once you have created an account, you may enroll in the proceedings by going to http://campus.extension.org/course/view.php?id=1131. You will enter your payment into eXtension’s PayPal system. Contact Deb Heleba with any questions about the proceedings.

Still Time to Order Rhizomes

Posted: February 11th, 2015 by hoppenin

Happy February!

We’ve had a few updates to our list of sources of folks selling rhizomes, including Anjali Farms & Lotus Moon Medicinals in South Londonderry and Sunnybrook Farm in Middlesex (certified organic Cascade, Centennial, Willamette, Kent Golding, Mt. Hood, Magnum, available April/May when the snow melts; $4/each not including shipping – min order $20). Also, the folks at US Hop Source have extended their order deadline to February 20 — you can contact them at 970-497-0691 or ushopsource@gmail.com.

Speaking of February 20, don’t forget that the 6th Vermont Hop Conference is just around the corner  — be sure to register ASAP at: www.uvm.edu/extension/hopsconference.

Keep calm and hop on!

Time to Order Hop Rhizomes

Posted: January 23rd, 2015 by hoppenin

It’s time to order Hop Rhizomes…if you haven’t already done so! Some nurseries have already sold out; others have order deadlines that are fast approaching. Below is a list of sources for hop rhizomes. If you are a rhizome producer and we missed you in our list – let us know!


Additional Sources (especially for Home Growers):

In addition, several sources are also starting to sell live potted plants. For example, Cornell Cooperative Extension has teamed up with the local greenhouse to offer potted hop plants:  http://www.northeasthopalliance.org/item/873582. Another NY greenhouse is also offering plants: http://www.northeasthopalliance.org/item/873619.

And remember, the best first defense to keeping diseases out of your hopyard is to use planting material certified free of HSVd and other viruses!

Mark Your Calendars: 6th Annual VT Hops Conference scheduled for Feb 20, 2015

Posted: January 8th, 2015 by hoppenin

hop-branchPlease mark your calendars for February 20, 2015 for our 6th Annual Vermont Hops Conference. It will be held from 9 am to 4 pm at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in South Burlington, Vermont.

You can check the conference website at: www.uvm.edu/extension/hopsconference… you can even register now!


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