Growing Hops In. . .

COLORADO, MONTANA & WYOMING


COLORADO
Boulder, CO
The summer of 2011 will be my 7th season growing hops. I have 21 plants (14 varieties) in my garden plot in Boulder, CO which is a dry and semi-arid climate. The plants receive full sun and grow vertically up 14ft posts with a narrow cylinder of fencing attached (think of a staked 14ft tomato cage). I cut all new growth back until about April 15th and then limit the each plant to 5 bines. Dry weight is measured after the cones sit in a homemade drying oast.

I have kept fairly accurate records over the last six years and have summarized my results from only mature three to six year old plants into three groups.
High Producers (2-3.5 lbs of dried cones per plant): Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, Mt Hood. Columbus gives me the most bang for my buck in terms of alpha acid% and production, which usually tops 3.5 lbs dry weight. Holy Cow, Columbus is prolific!

Moderate Producers (1-2 lbs of dried cones per plant): Willamette, Tettnanger, US Goldings, Sterling, Hallertau
Low Producers (Less than 1 lb of dried cones per plant): Perle, Saaz, Northern Brewer. These three varieties are notoriously fickle and don't seem to like the constant sunshine of a Western summer. I am happy with anything they provide.

Last year I sent a summary of my experience with hops.  I am the #1 person under the state of Colorado.  If you want, you can add this to my report:..
Addendum:  In the spring of 2012, I purchased Brewer’s Gold and Newport rhizomes from Thyme Garden and planted them in early May (rather late) in place of a few Liberty hops rhizomes that did not sprout.  I thought they would just need a small stake for the first summer since I planted them so late.  Geez, was I wrong!  I had to set up two more 14’ trellises like the ones used on my other hops.  The Brewer’s Gold and Newport produced 1.25 lbs (dried) each and had enough potency to be used as the primary bittering hops in a few English IPA’s I brewed this during the fall.  Even as first year plants, they were as lush as vigorous as many of my mature plants.  Hops never cease to amaze me…

Denver, CO
Just to let you know the hops I ordered from you are doing great.
 
The Centennial and Cascade are now 3+ years old and growing great.  Last year I got about 4 oz. DRY weight harvest off each rhizome.
 
The Kent Golding is just on its 2nd year but looking good as well.
 
Best,
Will 

MONTANA
Ten Mile Creek
Howdy,
I got your hops rhizomes a couple of months ago and planted them in June.  I've got one of the eastern-most organic hops operations of the NW growing region.  My operation is outside Helena, Montana right along 10-Mile Creek.  This is my 3rd year of growth and I'm still plowing through a lot of experimentation.  Right now I've got Brewers Gold, Fuggle, and now Cascade growing.  Thus far I cannot find that one variety does better than others, but I'm excited about the Cascade.  My brewers are most interested in commercial levels of Cascade, as they brew a number of beers for the local market using that cone.  

My place has silt for soil.  The creek used to be backed up and thus has about 80 inches of silt and does not hold water well.  I've been upping my drip irrigation slowly over the years.  This particular crop has changed a great deal.  I planted the 50 rhizomes you sent me in mid June and laid out a new drip line.  To combat the slick soil, I dug out the holes much deeper and laid a bowl of mulch/manure at the bottom.  I then planted the rhizomes with their butts in the mulch and their noses just below the surface.  My new line was pouring water out and I thought I'd have to replace it.  I went away for a couple of weeks on a trip and upon my return, found that I had as much as 6 inches growth on the new crop.  Bottom line here is that the use of mulch "bowl" at the bottom of the hole and the increased watering seems to be the trick for this high-mountain hops operation.  We'll see how the cones turn out this year.
Cheers - J.R.