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NC-VA Regional Hops Conference


Bringing Hop Growers and Brewers Together

NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program at NC State University

Friday, March 13, 2015 at 2:00 PM – Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 5:00 PM (EDT)

Winston-Salem, NC

“This event is co-chaired by Jeanine Davis, hops researcher and extension specialist at NC State University and Stan Driver, director of the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative.”

For more information please please visit the event link below.

We will be speaking at Fridays beginners session. We hope to see you there.

www.eventbrite.com

 

 

Rhizomes- The 7 Steps to Success



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Quality Cascade rhizomes from 3 year old plants at our VA farm.

 

Some farmers are moving towards the use of plants vs rhizomes these days, but for start up farms, back yarders and hobbyist, rhizomes are still an ideal option for growing hops. They are cheap and easily sourced. We started with rhizomes due to the local availability and the cost effectiveness at start up.

Yes, you can actually plant a rhizome incorrectly. Too deep, upside down, over water them, plant too closely together…the list goes on. However, they can actually be very simple to manage, easy to grow and will turn into the most beautiful plants in just a few months. The most imports part is to make sure your hops plant or rhizome has room to climb. The taller the trellis the higher the yield in most cases. If possible use a good sandy soil with adequate drainage. We are going to keep it very simple. Here is the rundown.

 

1. Plant your rhizomes with the eyes and any shoots facing up. This may mean planting vertically. Plant your rhizome a few inches in the ground. Either create a hill or dig a small hole. You can plant similar varieties 3-4 feet apart. Separate varieties 7 feet apart or further.

**Notice the eyes are slightly facing up**

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Notice the eye is facing upwards.

 

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Pen is pointing at the same eye as above. Small, but important to plant with the eye facing up.

 

2. Press the soil firmly to remove any air pockets around the rhizome.

3. Water until the soil is evenly moist. Do not over water. This could rot the rhizome.

4. The buds will soon break the surface and begin looking for something to climb. For most rhizomes, leave all the shoots and let them grow. As they mature over the years, the first shoots will be removed for quite some time. Typically late April or so until you start letting them grow. However, with rhizomes, let all the plant material take off. Of course, if you have one of those massive rhizomes with too many buds, then maybe remove a few.

5. As the plant establishes roots and healthy shoots have sprouted, begin to look at fertilizing. They need a lot of Nitrogen.

6. Begin training the bines to climb the string. String them by wrapping them clockwise around the string. They are coarse and will grab hold of the string no problem. Use untreated string or sisal twine. We use 2 ply sisal. It is easily available and relatively cheap.

7. Grab a beer and enjoy the show. Hops are extremely fast growers. We started our farm with rhizomes and many of them climbed to over 16 feet their first year.

7b. Yeah, we know, its not always that easy. There are disease issues, early cold spells, high winds, too much rain…There are a lot of factors that we have no control of. The ones we do, take care of them. Keep good records of what you see. Take pics of critters, discolored leaves, funky growth and anything else unusual.

 

There are plenty of other great resources out there as well for rhizome treatment. Google is a wonderful tool. Good luck and have fun. They are a lot easier to grow than one might think. Give them a shot and before you know it, you will be on your way to harvesting fresh hops for your next batch of homebrew.

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Digging rhizomes.

 

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NC Hops Yard Expansion



We have big plans for both our hops yards this season. But we are really excited about what we have in store for our North Carolina hops yard. An overhaul is in store.

Last season in NC we were not able to source enough poles to finish the yard as we wanted. We ended up using metal piping for a pole substitute. They worked great, but ultimately, cedar is what we would like to use. We have sourced some local cedar poles and will be replacing the metal pipes. We will be adding more rows and potentially adding a few Columbus.

We have seen potential water issues where we have our plants. The water does not drain as well as expected and we hope to remedy that. Our plan is to build larger raised beds as well as a channel for the water to flow away from the plants. This should help drastically in water standing on the roots of the crowns.

As we work the NC yard and get it just how we like it, look for opportunities to visit. We have plans for open house days in NC as well as VA.

We love what we do. We look forward to the season of hard labors that are heading our way sooner than later. Digging holes, running cable, setting poles and working the soil are all part of what we love about growing hops. However, the best part is all the wonderful people we have met along the way. The brewing community is like no other.

Thank you for your support in North Carolina and Virginia. We appreciate every ounce of it.

David Goode
Steve Brown

Spring Rhizomes and Root Pruning



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This spring we will be doing some root pruning on our 3 year old plants. This is important for several reasons. The process is simple but laborious. We will simply take a shovel, a rake and some hand tools and dig around the crowns. First year plants will have virtually no rhizomes and should not be root pruned. Our second year we left them alone again. This helped establish superior feeding roots. Hops plants produce two types of roots, feeders and rhizomes. Only the true roots are feeders, the rest of the root structure are for propagation and provide very little in the help of the uptake of soil nutrients.

The main reasoning for root pruning would be the control of the hops plant itself. During the off season the hops plant will put out new rhizomes. It’s sort of an invasive plant. It can spread quickly if not controlled. These underground shoots can break ground in the spring and develop plants in unwanted areas. If hops are left unattended, you could have a massive hops mess.

“If such exuberant growth is left unchecked, the plants will
soon cover the entire acreage with a solid mass of plant
material. Needless to say, for the purposes of hops production,
this is not desireable! Therefore, one of the major
spring tasks is to prune back this growth”
Rebecca Kneen
Small Scale and Organic Hops Production Guide

Secondly, you have rhizomes on these pruned roots. These can easily be transplanted and grown into quality plants. During the pruning season, we plan to harvest these rhizomes from the healthiest of our plants and have them available to you.

Our initial rhizomes that got us up and growing came from a young hops yard in NC dug from 2 year old crowns. They were small and had several buds. Once planted and roots established, they reached the tops of our 17 ft trellis in their first season. We harvested about 1/2 lb per plant of fresh un dried hops in year 2. With this being our first spring cutting the root systems, we expect a jump in growth and higher yields. There is huge upside to root pruning crowns at an early age. Regardless of age of crown, rhizomes harvested will grow and produce hops for years to come.

We plan to have our hops rhizomes available in the spring for NC and VA customers. We do not ship rhizomes and do not have any shipped in. These will be local, super fresh rhizomes.

So, remember us come rhizome season if you want to shop and buy local. If rhizomes are not your style and you prefer plants, we plan on having some available late spring as well.

We appreciate your business.

Sorry, no commercial rhizome orders.

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