It’s hard to believe that it’s finally time to start walking your hop yards to check for signs of spring. The snow is melting and temperatures are warming. I walked the campus hop yard yesterday. Spring buds are forming around the crowns and weeds are greening up. (Speaking of weeds — have you signed up for the weed and fertility management workshop? See more details here.) As spring approaches, consider the following management activities to adequately prepare you for the growing season.
- Clean and disinfect your equipment and tools. Removing any remnants of plant material or soil from your toils, and wiping them down with a 10% bleach or alcohol solution helps to prevent future infections.
- Check your trellis and irrigation system. Check the trellis system by tightening any cable or anchors and checking poles for sturdiness to ensure the system can support the heavy bines later in the season. Check the drip system for any rodent damage, and run water to make sure it’s reaching all the emitters.
- Clean up debris. Remove any debris from last season that may serve as host to pests and diseases.
- Test your soils. If you did not test your soils last fall, now is a good time to test soils. Results provide what nutrients are currently in the soil and help to determine what you as a grower will need to add throughout the growing season.
- Arrange coir shipment. If you haven’t already, arrange for your coir twine shipment. Soak the coir for 24 hours before stringing to help make tying an easier task. As the coir drys, it will constrict to prevent sliding on the cable.
- Remove early hop shoots. Removal of early hop shoots is different than pruning in order to determine the correct training date. This first removal takes care of downy mildew shoots emerging from the crown as well as the hollow and more brittle shoots that typically emerge first. A later pruning will determine when to train the bines up the coir.
At this time, weeds have already emerged so the window for applying most pre-emergent herbicides has passed. Those should be applied in January or February when the plants are completely dormant. Based on the weeds spotted yesterday, careful spot spraying (on the rare occasion when it’s not windy) or hand pulling will suffice.
- Hops Production Workshop, hosted by Midwest Hop ProducersSaturday, March 10, 2018, 8 am – 5 pm
Southeast Community College, 537 Main Street, Plattsmouth, NE 68048.
For more information and to register, visit here.
- Weed & Fertility Management Workshop
Friday, April 6, 4-6 pm
Plant Science Hall Room 199
This workshop will include educational information on managing hop yard weeds, soil and plant fertility, and hands-on development of a fertility plan for hop production. A campus hop yard tour will be held following presentations, weather permitting. For questions or to register, please email email@example.com.
SAVE THE DATES
This summer, I’m partnering with the Nebraska Hop Growers Association, and a few of our state’s hop growers to host informal tours, educational sessions, and opportunities to network. These events will be free. In the case of meals being available, attendees will be responsible.
- June Hop Yard Tour – Saturday, June 2, Homestead Hops, Utica, NE, Hop Yard Tour, Growing season update, light breakfast provided.
- July Hop Yard Tour – Saturday, July 14, Kearney, Hop Yard Tour, Pest & Disease Update, lunch and meet the brewer at Thunderhead Brewing Company.
- August Hop Yard Tour – TBD – Stay Tuned!
- Introductory Hop Workshop
Friday, June 8, 4-6:30 pm
Plant Science Hall Room 199
This workshop will provide information on the cost of hop production, trellis design and set up, and basic information on hop agronomics, harvest, and post-harvest processing. A local brewer will be on hand to discuss what they are looking for in locally produced hops for their beers. Check back soon for registration details. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.