How to plant hops ?

How to grow hops ?

In a garden, on a balcony, a roof, along a wall, a pergola, in the ground or in a container: hops grow everywhere, but not just anyhow!

Although hops are a perennial plant, which can often be seen in the wild, along hedgerows, forest edges, or waterways, growing it requires a good knowledge of its needs, its bio-aggressors and its cycle.

What land for a hop field?
It is first necessary to identify the right climatic conditions
• Deep soil, ideally loamy clay and well drained.
• A slight slope promotes the flow of water
• A pH between 6 and 8, the ideal is between 6 and 7, ie slightly acidic.
• Hops are fairly undemanding in terms of exposure to the sun, just make sure they have part of the day in the sun, not necessarily due south. If you have several rows of houlbons, ideally place them in the direction of the wind to allow air to circulate, which will prevent fungal diseases.
• An altitude lower than 1000 m: there are few reliable results on the cultivation of hops at altitude, experiments are necessary to prove the interest of the cultivation of hops <1000m
• Planting in pots is possible but only if necessary (polluted soil, shallow soil, very limited space), provide at least 100 liters of substrate.
Choose the right variety of hops
There are a multitude of criteria for choosing your variety, depending on whether you are looking for hops for ornamentation or for brewing use: we have created a search engine to help you find your way around:
• Take into account the vigor of the variety, but also its resistance to diseases and insects.
• If you brew beer as an amateur or a pro, you will already have your preferences
• If you have no experience in brewing, talk to a brewer you know, ask him what interests him in a hop: bitterness? the aromas? which?
• Initially favor a population of heterogeneous varieties to observe the behavior, you will be able to uproot the less interesting ones and
• Replant the most interesting ones as the harvest progresses and your observations.
• Most plants sold on HOPSTOCK.FR are bare-rooted, CAD that the root system is complete, devoid of soil to facilitate storage and shipping. They are already a year old, which means that, planted in the right conditions, they are likely to give hops in the first year.
Prepare the ground:

• The hops will appreciate a few handfuls of compost in the furrow or the hole provided (mix the compost with the soil)
• If you make a furrow or a hole, plan a depth of 20-30cm
• In pots: 0.1 m3 minimum (100 litres): 1⁄3 of compost (max) + 2⁄3 of earth (or 1⁄3 of earth 1⁄3 of sand)
Prepare the plant

• Upon receipt: store the plants in a cool place (between 1 and 4°C) in a closed bag and protected from light for a maximum of 4 weeks.
• Take the plants out of the bag, be careful not to mix the varieties if you have ordered several, if you order from HOPSTOCK, each variety will be provided with a label guaranteeing its origin and the health of the plant.
• If you observe surface mold on the plants, this is surely due to storage at too high a temperature for several days, there is nothing to worry about, there are solutions to reduce the risks for the hops, to eliminate these molds, prepare two buckets, one with 5% vinegar, the other with clear water, soak the roots in the first bucket and immerse it several times in the second bucket to eliminate the residues of vinegar which could damage the root, rub if necessary.
• There is a method to promote good recovery, optional: pralinage: 1/3 dung, 1/3 water, 1/3 soil, soak the hop plants in it before planting.
• Plant the plant in the furrow or the hole provided, hold the plant so that the collar is at ground level, cover with fine soil: be careful, the collar of the plant should not see the light, it is better to put a little too much of land above that not enough!
• Water 2 to 3 liters per plant.

• Hang the supporting wires, often made of coconut fibre, at the top of the scaffolding or on a hook if the plant is along a wall.
• Plant the wire in the ground, about twenty centimeters using a thin, notched pole to put the coconut wire there.
• In the first year, we can let all the vines grow, but we can also eliminate the least viable ones and keep those that seem the healthiest, two or three in number, wrap them clockwise around the guardian wire, be especially careful not to break the head or to press the vine too much, then you will have to start again with a vine in good shape.
• Cut with a paring knife or pull by hand the unnecessary shoots around the guardian wire.
How to care for hops?

• Regularly pull out shoots and weeds around the plant, these capture nutrients that will not go to the hops and promote the storage of free water, and therefore promote the appearance of fungal diseases in case of mild temperatures (18-25° for mildew)
• Water every four to five days with 3 liters per plant, every day during very dry periods in May or June.
• When the vine reaches 3 to 4m, take a glove and tear off all the leaves of the first meter, these leaves favor the humid environment appreciated by mildew and insect pests. The first meter is often unproductive.
• Treat with a hand sprayer or an arboreal atomizer regularly and preventively with rock powder (mildew, powdery mildew, aphids), black soap (wetting agent for rock powder, aphids, red spiders), whey (aphids , red spiders). Do not treat in hot weather (>25°c), do your treatments early in the morning, without wind, avoid treatments in the hours or the day before heavy rain, they will have no effect.
• When the wind is strong or the varieties are very vigorous, they can lose the wire, it is sometimes necessary to put them back to the wire, this is done by hand, with a basket if they are inaccessible on foot.
How to harvest hops?
The hops are ripe between the end of August and the beginning of October depending on the variety, it must be 20-25% dry matter (calculate the dry matter), it must not smell too "green" (too early) nor smell of garlic/ the onion (too late).
Without a professional picker you can pick each cone by hand, one vine will take 30-45 minutes of picking per person to harvest the 1000-3000 inflorescences. (calculate the quantity of plants according to the time you can devote to it!)
How to dry hops?

• You can use fresh, undried hops in beer directly, preferably when boiling. (in dry hopping, it risks infecting the wort), it's called a harvest beer, it's a style that is gaining more and more followers.
• The hops must drop to 8%-12% humidity in order to preserve it, this percentage is obtained by blowing hot (40-55°c) and dry air through a layer of hops of 20 to 30 centimeters for several hours. (6 to 10 hours usually)

You now have all the steps to grow your hops!

If you don’t have the time or want to give a gift to a beer fan: we have prepared a ready-to-plant hop kit, which we send in record time throughout France!

Meet on the Facebook group “Houblonniers Amateurs” to share and discover the experiences of other micro-hopmakers!

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