I need information on how to manage hops from the ground up and when and how to do what. Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated, such as when to dig rhizomes, prune, storage, etc.
— E. Colleen Duncan, via email
Hops for production require good management through pruning, training and fertilizing and through a fairly long growing season of 120 frost-free days. Note that there are some varieties of hops that are ornamental rather than for hop harvest.
Hops will die back to the ground each year, so the vines should be cut off at the end of the growing season. They are aggressive and can reach up to 25 feet. They have separate male and female plants – only the female plants are grown for brewing. If you have to move them, now is a good time to dig the overwintering rhizomes.
Michigan State Extension has a great resource for small, backyard growers – a recorded seminar with a printed version available at http://www.extension.org/pages/60945/starting-up-small-scale-organic-hops-production.
Purdue has an excellent Integrated Pest Management Guide for Commercial Hop Growers for those with large acreage to manage: http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ID/ID-462-W-2015.pdf
Rosie Lerner is the Purdue Extension consumer horticulturist and a consumer of Tipmont REMC. Questions about gardening issues may be sent to: “Ask Rosie,” Electric Consumer, P.O. Box 24517, Indianapolis, IN 46224, or ec@ElectricConsumer.org.