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The Belgian Mare Says Hello!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Hop Season Looks Good

This year is shaping up to be a great year for hops. We decided to double the size of the hop yard and Dad and I put up some more trellis. Next year we hope to expand even more.

Our first shoots broke through on April 24. The number of shoots that the third-year plants are putting up is bordering on the absurd. It breaks my heart to have to prune such nice strong shoots, but if I left them all I would quickly be overrun by a hop jungle.

This is the first year that we trimmed rhizomes. Trimming rhizomes is recommended as plants are heading into their third summer, so for the first time we had plants that were ready to have their rhizomes trimmed. Once I had dug into the ground around my third-year plants, I was amazed by the amount of growth that had been taking place under ground. Some of the plants had sent rhizomes that went on for several feet, right out of the hop yard! Not only were the rhizomes long, but they were thick and loaded with active buds. I thought back to the scrawny, soggy, cheroot-looking rhizomes I had plunked down five bucks each for (half of which survived) and wondered where that supplier had gotten his.

When the trimming was done, I had a large pail of top quality rhizomes. Free! I had prepared more ground for planting and filled it quickly with the best of the trimmings. I then began looking for other places to plant. No sense wasting good hop rhizomes. We now have hop plants scattered about the property. Flag poles, cherry trees, garden fences: nothing was safe from being hopped. I still have a ton left over! So I am now in the hop rhizome selling business.

As I write this, May 10, my third-year plants are four feet tall with less than a month of growing. My trellis is 13 feet tall and last year the second-year plants topped out in nine weeks. It will be interesting to see how fast they will top out this year. I may need a bigger trellis.

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