Growing Hops In. . .

CALIFORNIA, NEVADA & UTAH


CALIFORNIA
Cupertino, CA
I live in Cupertino in the foot hills (just south of San Francisco). These hops get some morning and mid day sun. They get very little late day sun. Soil is clay so I have added heavy amounts of chicken compost and a bit of sand for drainage. Ever few months I top of the ground with manure. I fertilize with fish compost when the vines are growing fast. I only use drip irrigation. 

Year 2009 I purchased and planted Cascade, Sterling and Willamette hops. I got a strong harvest of each vine. Each rose over 15 ft tall and I was harvesting in mid August. No issues at all.

Year 2010 Cascade came on stronger. Sterling disappeared (dug up ground and could not find rhizome) Willamette did very well. --> I did not test my hops but the Willamette seems to have a very high AA%. It made some wonderful hoppy beers that I have not been able to replicate with 10% store bought hops. I purchased and planted two Magnum. They did well but not a big first harvest. Large cones!

Year 2011 I purchased and planted three Zeus. These are the same as Columbus right? Already I can see Cascade with three shoots. It's ready to grow big time! No sign of Willamette yet (no concern) and Magnums are starting to grow.

Lessons learned:
1. Mark your hops with a sign. I hear of too many issues with guys forgetting what is planted where. 2. Cascade seems to love it here (95014). All grow well. I don't know what happened to Sterling :-(. That was the base of my German Lager German. 3. Having the right soil with good drainage makes your hops happy.
Cheers!

Lakeport, CA
Hops used to be grown in Lake County (and in nearby Mendocino County). Now, only a few small growers grow hops.  I have been told that spider mites are the reason they are no longer grown here.

In Lakeport, where I live, I am on former lake bottom with extremely deep clay soil.  I use a lot of gypsum and manure with the occasional potassium sulfate (SOP) and zinc sulfate (Maximo 360).  I haven't mulched but I plan to this year because of the drought. I have them on micro-sprayers and need to water every few days dependingon the ET. 

For spider mites, I use SucraShield, which works for me but not others in my area.  I'm using a permanent 10 foot trellis with netting. 
We have a Mediterranean climate with a short growing season.  Our average yearly rainfall of 28 inches falls mainly from November through April. 

In some years we have a little snow as we're at 1332 foot elevation surrounded by mountains from 2000 to 7000 feet.  Summers are hot and dry with low humidity. We
rarely see a cloud in the hottest summer months and the temperatures range between 95 and 99 normally though it cools down at night.  Note that spider mites love the dry weather.

I also have a lot of issues with the water.  I have both CO2 and bicarbonate in the water.  The water starts out acidic and ends up alkaline.  Not all the hops are happy with a pH of 7.4, but some tolerate it.

Now for what grows best here.  I just received an order from the Thyme Garden for 40 Sterling rhizomes.  Sterling does well here, and I have a possible buyer for the Sterling. I already have a 150 foot row of producing Sterling bines.  The hops that do the best at my place are Santium. Unfortunately, no one seems to use them. Mine are higher in alpha acids (9.3) than expected, though I've been told it's genetic and not due to growing conditions.  Magnum is iffy here.  Some plants did well and others didn't.  I pulled out the Mt Hood, as they are not at all happy in Lake County.  Another grower on the other side of the lake had the same issue with Mt Hood and pulled theirs
out too.  Hallertauer bines are very vigorous here until the spider mites arrive. They are much more susceptible to spider mites than any of the other varieties and the flowers/cones are mainly small. I will be pulling the Hallertauer out this year, but I haven't decided on a replacement (either Sterling or Santium).
The hops I received today look very nice and healthy.  I sprayed them with water and placed them in the fridge as I can't plant till Saturday.  It's raining now and should rain tomorrow as well. - Nancy 

Santa Rosa, CA
I live in Santa Rosa California which is an hour north of San Francisco and purchased 2 Zeus, 2 Cascade and 2 Centennial rhizomes in 2011. First year flowering on the Zeus was very good, I still have some of the hops left over. I was able to brew about five batches of beer (IPA) and still have enough for two more batches. The Cascade first year growth and flowering was moderate. I was also able to use those hops as additions in my home brew. The Centennial didn’t produce any usable flowers the first year.

Now I’m in the middle of the second year. Only one vine out of the six that I planted is doing well (I believe due to critters). There were critter mounds around my hops during the winter and I believe gofers ate the roots to all but one of the six rhizomes. The one Zeus vine that made it is doing very well, the hops are large and more plentiful. I would recommend the Zeus hops to someone living in Northern CA. The other Zeus and both Cascade vines only climbed half-way up the ropes this year (probably 10 feet) and are already flowering. The hops appear to be much smaller and less plentiful than the first years growth. I believe that if gofers didn’t get the Cascade hops, they would have done very well this year. The Centennial were puny last year and they are this year too. I don’t think they like it here.

This year I purchased three more varieties of hops from the Thyme Garden: Northern Brewer, Brewers Gold and Kent Golding. So far the Brewers Gold looks very healthy and has reached the top of the rope (15 feet). The leaves are big and the vines are thick, it looks as though I will be getting a good yield the first year. The Northern Brewer aren’t growing too fast although they do look very healthy. The Kent Golding are doing the same as the Northern Brewer, although only 1 of 2 rhizomes sprouted in the spring. Cheers

***Update from Benjamin: I have had some issues with my hops. I can't seem to get rid of the gofers and the continually eat away at the rhizomes. Each year I buy more hops from you guys to replace some of the rhizomes that have been damaged. I have tried everything to get rid of the gofers and unfortunately I have been unsuccessful.

The average life expectancy of hops in my yard is about 4 years. The first year they produce a little. The second year they produce a very large amount of hops. The third year they start to decline very slightly and by the 4th year there is a very low yield. The hops also decrease in size in the third and 4th years. I'm guessing this is due to the gofers because I am able to see that the roots have been chewed. I also think that in some instances maybe I'm overwatering the rhizomes. The clay like soil that I have tends to hold water and doesn't produce ideal growing conditions.
 
This past year my 2nd year Nugget rhizome had a very high yield and the hops were large. My Zeus hops were also a second year vine and they had a very good yield too. Last year my Northern Brewer and Brewers Gold produced a very large yield and with large cones. The only hops that I have purchased from the Thyme Garden that have not done well were Kent Golding and Centennial. Besides those all have been good. 
 
By the way, the pictures below are from 2013 and are most likely Chinook, Northern Brewer, and Brewers Gold Hops.
Santa Rosa Hops

Jamul, CA
Howdy, People of Thyme Garden,
Just wanted to briefly share some experiences growing.  I'm about 20 miles east of downtown San Diego, in granite and chaparral covered foothills, at about 2200 feet elevation.  I'm in the bottom of a little valley that collects cool air at night.  but it's extreme southern California, so it gets pretty hot in summer and fall.  Soil is really nice well-balanced loam, drains well but retains some moisture too.  I planted 3 Magnum, 3 Cascade, and 3 Willamette rhizomes that I ordered from you, and 6 Nuggets that had an iffy start here the previous year (they were eaten to the ground by renegade cows just at their peak growth, and I moved them in the dormant season to their present location).  Amended the soil generously with composted horse manure and shavings.  Enclosed each rhizome in a 3/4 inch gopher wire basket about 18" X 18".  Built five 15-18-foot bamboo tripods for the plants to grow on, planted a rhizome at the base of each pole, so that each might have a pole to climb.  Watered about once a week, just giving them about 10-20 seconds with the hose, so a couple of gallons at a shot.  Mulched with more composted horse manure.
 
Plants sprouted promptly, and I attempted to thin to the best 3 shoots.  Didn't always work out.  Also I was not as diligent as I might have been at training the bines up the bamboo.  They had a tough time clinging to the slippery bamboo, and next year I'm going to suspend some heavy twine from the tripods, to give them something easier to climb.  The gopher wire worked well, as far as I can tell.  Gophers may have had access to roots that grew out of the cages, but I didn't see any obvious damage.  
 
Results:
Willamette: Didn't grow vigorously.  All survived, but only grew about 3-6 feet.  Didn't flower appreciably.  Hopefully they're just developing a better root system.
Magnum:  One grew vigorously and had a generous handful of cones.  I got a shade over 2 oz. dry weight of Magnum cones.
Nugget:  Grew pretty vigorously, and 2 or 3 of the 6 plants flowered well.  I harvested about 8 oz dry weight of Nuggets.
Cascade:  Like the other new rhizomes I planted this year, I expected them to take a year just to put on roots.  Only 2 survived, but one of them grew to make up the difference for the one that died, I guess, and produced 8 oz dry weight of cones.  Not bad!  
 
So in summary, I got about a half-pound of well-dried hops for my trouble.  The Magnums are currently in the fermenter!  Next year I plan to continue the same hop husbandry practices, except using twine for them to climb on, and ruthlessly pruning the initial shoots down to 3.  Would like to expand to include Zeus and Centennial, maybe some more varieties.  

Los Angeles, CA
Thought I'd give some feedback on how our first year or rooted hop rhizomes did this year. We live in Southern California (at the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains just 10 miles north of downtown Los Angeles). We planted 1 Centennial, 2 Chinook, 2 Cascade, and 1 Magnum in a garden along a west facing wall of our 2 story home. Got some tips from my homebrew club, the Maltose Falcons, and combined that with the great info provided by The Thyme Garden. Cascade and Magnum were off to the races first with Centennial and Chinook growing much slower. Cones were first on Cascade, then Magnum, with no cones on either Centennial or Chinook. Harvested the Cascade and Magnum in mid-August, right as they reached perfection. Cascade cones were huge and we ended up with 8oz. Magnum were smaller in size and we ended up with 4oz. This week we'll be brewing our first fresh hop IPA with our own hops...can't wait! We'll go through the process to prepare the same vines for next year, hoping we can get some production from Centennial and Chinook and more volume from the Cascade and Magnum. You'll get our pre-orders for next year as we'd like to expand varietals in other locations on our property. Cheers!

Novato, CA
Bethany -
 I bought hop rhizomes for the first time this year. As far as I know they were rootless, but I'm not sure what I actually bought. I planted them in two beds right next to one another on the east side of a solid wooden fence. Of the six plants, two have climbed to the top of the fence, while the rest are less than halfway up. Pictures are attached. I planted then in a planting mix from the local nursery, and used no additional fertilizer. I water them two or three times a week, depending on how hot the weather's been. I live at the northern end of Marin, just north of San Francisco. - Rick


East of San Diego, CA
The 3 Chinook rhizomes arrived yesterday in good shape, much larger & robust than those they replaced...already planted & ready to grow! Great service & Thank You! I live in Southern California, in the hills east of El Cajon, 20 miles east of San Diego, @ 1600 feet elevation, with warm summers (usually in the 80's & 90's during the summers, with an occasional low 100's) I've planted 8 different kinds of hops. Both Chinook & Magnum produced heavily, with Cascade & Centenial also producing well. Northern brewer did well, with very small cones. Nugget & Saaz are doing ok. The Fuggle has yet to produce, & this will be it's third season. I use individual bubbler heads for watering each basin, using well water. The hops are planted on a terraced hillside, facing south-west, full-sun, getting late afternoon shade from large trees below. With some of the plantings, I built a 12" raised bed due to drainage issues I discovered after digging 18" holes for planting (clay in soil?). I used 12" chicken wire 'baskets' to protect from gophers, also had to install a chain-link fence to protect from rabbits. The hops are planted in like pairs, about four feet apart, with a 10 1/2 ft. high 14' x 21' trellis system made out of recycled 1" iron pipe. I use hemp twine to support the vines, installed each spring as the vines grow. Last year was my first harvest from the two-year old hops vines. Thanks again, Randy

Richmond, CA
Hey there, Thyme Garden! Thought I might pass along photos of my Magnum hop plant which is in full bloom at this point (July 29th).
  I got my rhizome from you in early May or so, planted it in a container May 15, and it is by far the most robust, healthy hops plant in my garden. 7 feet tall and loads of flowers already!  Couldn't be happier. 
Compared to the rhizomes I got from my local brew shop, yours are far and away happier and healthier.  You'll be getting all my rhizome business next season -Tom 
Question:  Amarillo.  It's easily my favorite aroma hop, though *nobody* sells Amarillo rhizomes.  Why is this?  Is it's super-duper-uber-patented or something?  Defense Dept top secret?  A gift straight from the Goddesses themselves with no other distribution channel?

Answer: You nailed it Tom! Yes to all of the above. Amarillo is highly patented and only the Goddesses get to choose who gets one!




Oakland, CA
I received a request to let you know how well your hops rhizomes grow across different regions in the US. Well, I live in Oakland, CA and have had great success so far with the Cascade, Willamette and Northern Brewer. I planted these is mid March, when I recieved them, and they are now roughly 1.5 feet and growing! The Hallertauer and Kent Golding just popped up through the soil so we'll see how they do. I'll give you an update next year on the yield of the hops.

Santa Barbara, CA
I planted four different varieties of hops around the middle of April, 2013. Following is a report of the progress of varietals. All were planted at same time, same soil and same location. All the rhizomes looked "healthy" upon delivery and planting.
1) Zeus - never sprouted. Don't know what happened as it never showed itself above the ground.
2) Brewers Gold - same as Zeus - never saw it above the ground.
3) Cascade - this varietal is doing great. Sprouted within a week and has been going crazy since. It only has an 8' pole to grow on, but it would be at the top of a 20' pole if it was provided. Very lush and many flowers. This one is a "monster" hop.
4) Nugget - doing very good. Not quite as vigorous as Cascade, but plenty healthy and looking good. Lots of flowers. If the Nugget was not next to it the Cascade it would be the monster hops of the garden.
 
Hope this feedback is helpful -Wally

Southern California, 33rd Parallel
I wanted to report the results of planting my Chinook hops I received from you. After preparing the planting area to amend fertilizer and ensure proper drainage(which was better than expected), I waited for the first shoots. Once established I setup a simple stake to control what I thought was going to be small growth with most production going to root development. They exploded in growth and actually produced a fair amount of hops that were harvest worthy, even for a few month old vine. If it wasn't for a spider mite infestation that I failed to control, I would have had been able to use the hops in my homebrew beer. I am very pleased with the quality of rhizomes I received and look forward to many years of hops.
***Update 2014: Sadly I must report the hops didnt make it. I believe our location is just too hot to grow them. They took a beating last year and never recovered this year with the heat wave we had down in So Cal along with the other varieties we had planted previously. I dont think the others will survive much longer. 
Still, it was worth the effort and may give it another shot next year...

Southern California
Hello there!
In your newsletter you asked for some emails from hop growers who have planted your rhizomes and what our experiences have been.  I have planted both Cascade and Nugget rhizomes from Thyme Garden.  I'm in Southern California in Orange County.  So far after two years the Nugget hops have done very well, while the Cascade have not been stellar.  I think the Cascade got a disease last year and were somewhat stunted in their growth with very small cones.  But the Nuggets have been spectacular.  I planted them alongside my house in some sandy soil.  This last season I added a 50/50 mix of compost and worm cuttings in early spring.  The hops seemed to like it because they grew well over 20ft and I had no problems with mildew, fungus, or whiteflies all season.  You can see the hops and my harvest at:

http://karlisbeer.blogspot.com/2011/07/2011-hop-crop.html
http://karlisbeer.blogspot.com/2011/08/nugget-harvest.html

Cheers! John

Southern California
You mentioned in your latest newsletter that you were looking for feedback on how hops ordered from you guys were doing.  I ordered Cascade, Nugget, Magnum and Centennial (non-rooted) rhizomes from you guys and planted them this spring.  I'm in Southern California so I wasn't sure how they would do.  I had heard that Cascade and Nugget specifically did well in Southern California and that seemed to be the case.  They definitely did the best of the four.  The Nugget even produced, after drying, about 1 ounce of hops cones.  I was actually surprised to get cones any from any of the plants since it was the first year.  I'm hoping next year all four varieties will really take off. Below is a link to my blog and a post about how the hops did this year.  Feel free to use any of the pictures in the post.
Thanks,
Christine

NEVADA
Sparks

The hops have done well considering that they have survived rabbits eating them down to the grounds and then my dogs digging them up the next year (both times in mid growth 10 foot bines) they came back every time and I have handed cuttings off to friends. When you live in Nevada you need every edge you can get and the above average size of these cuttings really did provide that extra bulk you need in the high desert. I highly recomend The Thyme Garden for any home brewer!