Beware of Bull Shoots!

Bull shoots emerging from a hop hill. Click on image to enlarge.

Due to the cold, wet weather this spring, our hops have been a little slow to emerge from the ground, but they’re finally ready to train!

If you’ve been looking at your hopyard and thinking the same thing, be cautious of bull bines.

These bines are the first shoots to emerge from the ground in the spring, and while they look tall, vigorous, and inviting, avoid training these shoots!

Bull bines produce fewer side arms than regular shoots and can yield 400-600 pounds fewer dry hops than the later emerging shoots. Bull bines can be identified by their physical characteristics — they are hollow, stiff, and brittle. Since they grow so quickly, they have long intermodal spaces too.

Regular shoot (left) as compared to a bull shoot (right). Click on image to enlarge.

Their color is another way to identify them — they tend to be purple. In comparison, regular shoots are flexible, more green in color, and less hollow; these shoots also have a shorter internodal space than the bull shoots.  These shoots are slower to emerge, but the difference in cone yield is worth the wait!

We recommend removing the bull shoots from the hills, so the plant can allocate more nutrients and energy to growing the more productive secondary shoots.

Happy training and remember to keep calm and hop on…




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