Well, 2016 was a droughty growing season, but so far 2017 is shaping up to be quite the opposite. This damp weather can be a problem for a few reasons but especially because it creates a haven for downy mildew infection which can greatly reduce harvest yield. Since mid-April, we have forecasted that 45% of days between April 15 and June 6 have had a high risk for disease incidence. Plants are very vulnerable to downy mildew infection during periods with prolonged moisture on the shoots and foliage. For more information on downy mildew, please be sure to check out our earlier blog posts about downy mildew.
Similar to the 2015 season, the cool, damp weather has set the hops back in their vegetative growth. June is a very important month for physiological hop development. By the time the plants reach the top of the trellis, the number of cone-producing side shoots will be determined. Hops are a photoperiod sensitive crop, so if plants are unable to reach the top of the trellis by the time the day length changes (generally on summer solstice, June 21) and begin their reproductive phase, they will not produce as many cones.
Keep your fingers crossed for drier weather! And remember to keep calm and hop on.