I realize this photograph is quite poor. The autofocus focused on the dead stem from last year instead of the new shoot. The new shoots are the blurred reddish things. However, right now this is the only photo I have. All apologies.
I was quite surprised when I saw the hop shoots this afternoon. I had checked the yard a few days previous and found no shoots. Even scratching back the soil a bit showed no sign of growth. I was worried, so imagine my relief, and surprise, when I found shoots about four inches long this afternoon!
This is a joyous event. After last year's losses and this winter's wet-and-freeze, I was a bit worried about the prospects for the hopyard this growing season. It looks like we have a good start on this year's crop. In fact, I believe this is the earliest start we have ever had. It is a good thing that hops are frost resistent, as I have a feeling we will have at least one more frost before the real growing season.
This year I am doing things a bit differently. I have applied some organic fertilizer and some lime. I had noticed last year that the soil was getting a bit acidic as evidenced by the spread of wild strawberries. With all the wet last year I believe nutrient leeching was also a problem, but I did not want to blast things with fertilizer so I went the organic route. With the application of a bit of horse compost we should be fine.
So it looks like we have a good start on this year's hop crop. Let us hope for good growing weather!