As of today these hops plants have been in the ground for two full months and I’m incredibly proud, surprised and excited to say that the Saaz plant has full hop cones. Some are already almost an inch in length and hopefully will continue blooming for the next few months. From what I understand, this is still amazingly early to have cones appear, as they usually pop up mid-summer. We’ll see how these plants do over the next few months as the weather starts to get more warm.
About 2 weeks ago when my hop burrs started popping up, it became pretty clear that the first 2-3 feet of the vines weren’t going to be producing anything. So rather than leave those non-producing vines take up precious trellis space, I untangled the whole thing (very carefully) and wound the first 2 feet of the plant around the lip of the pot. This allows me a bit more control of the unwieldy plant, and lets me maximize the use of my 25ft length of hop twine. I strongly recommend caution doing this though, as breaking or creasing the vine can completely stunt growth. Overall its been very helpful and allowed me to really give the blooming vines the room they need.
The heat wave we got last week forced me to heavily water the plants every single day, but they managed to make it through without much problem. August is going to be the big concern, and hopefully by then we’ll have vines full of cones, if they haven’t fully developed early. Thats the biggest question now for me – if I’m getting cones this early in the season, does that mean I’ll have fully developed and lupulin rich cones earlier than the regular harvest.
The warm weather has also brought in pests, and as you can see from the photo to the left, we’ve got some leaf damage. This is by far the most damaged; most others are still in tact, so I’m not overly concerned at this point, and I’ve read that hops are such hearty plants that you need a serious infestation for them to become an overwhelming problem. What I’m dealing with here is white flies, which are very small white insects that sit on the back sides of the leaves and chomp away. They are totally visible to the naked eye, so keeping them in check shouldn’t be too difficult. Better to be safe than sorry though, so I picked up a bottle of insecticidal soap from the local garden store to keep these bugs in check. Soap is quite safe for foodstuff, and can be sprayed up until the day of harvest without a concern.
While the chinook is still a bit behind the saaz in terms of developing full hop cones, I’m confident that its going to produce quite a bit. Its always been a bit slower, but along the way its built a much bigger, fuller leaf base, and there’s a ton of hop burrs popping up all over the plant. Plus the main vine is sprouting small mini vines of its own. We’ll see how those develop but if it interferes with the growth of the main vine, I may have to trim them back