Today's Nebraska Hop Grower's Association tour of Duffin-Knudsen's yard near Fremont was a real treat. Some key takeaways:
Hops shoots are among the world's most expensive vegetables. I guess because they're yummy. They're procured by whacking back the initial bine growth that shoots up in March-early May. Apparently, these "bull shoots" can seriously launch toward they sky, but won't be the best producers of hops. Best to cut them back after the risk of freeze and let round 2 do their thing.
Drip emission is a varied practice causing strong opinions. One problem to look out for is the formation over time of "salt rings" around the hop crowns that can happen when fertilizer runs through drippers repeatedly in the same, targeted spot. Lacking proper moisture, salt can form in the areas between the crowns (those not received the "drip"), which essentially acts like pruners that stunt lateral rhizome growth. Or somethig like that. It's not good.
String tying is a varied practice causing strong opinions. Vertical or in W shapes? What do you tie them to? What kind of string? Growers beware: Siesel twine rots. And coir rope comes in expensive, massive bales from Sri Lanka that need to be soaked to work with. Could we just use hemp, already?
Activities associated with both drop emission and string-tying make for a promising NHGA partnership with the Nebraska Chiropractic Association. Maybe we could meet Roger Craig!
More on irrigation: one must vary watering times. Hops are sensitive to routine, as it makes them lazy. Switch things up to keep them in a growing mood by changing watering times, introducing them to new hobbies, or surprising them with weekends away in the city.
There appear to be hundreds of thousands of trellis poles converging in the area of Plattsmouth, NE.
Others on this planet think about the same things I do...the NHGA is a great group of folks!