Attempting to Grow Hops in Cincinnati
In the spring of 2009 I decided to try my hand at growing hops. I had read about the hop shortage in 2007 that increased the price of beer and created a shortage of hops among the home brewers. I started off by ordering just two hop rhizomes. I really don’t know why I choose two but I did and ordered one cascade and one nugget. I was rather excited when the rhizomes arrived. I planted the two rhizomes 8 feet apart. Within a matter of weeks new growth was obvious on both plants. Just to make sure that I didn’t confuse the two plants, I placed stakes behind each of the plants with their names in permanent marker. It only took a couple more weeks and I was teaching them how to climb a rope that I had stretched to the second floor roof. The hops grew to twelve feet high in the first year with the cones only measuring in size of about one inch. In the fall I cut back the bines to about three inches above the ground. I was pleased with the first year’s growth since I was under the impression that it would take three years to harvest any cones worth using.
In the spring of 2010 the bines came up early and I proceeded as I did the year prior with training the bines. The results were twelve foot bines and the cones measured 1-2 inches. Unfortunately it was a very dry summer in the Cincinnati area and the cones turned dry and brown on the bines way too early. During this season I tested the cones for dryness and the lupulin glands for smell. The yellow lupulin glands did not smell like hops even after drying the cones. They tended to smell like cut grass. I decided to stick it out and see what happened in year three.
The spring of 2011 was a typical spring with lots of rain. The hop garden went the same as in years past, only with the hope that this was going to be the year that would produce a harvest worth using. The weather did not cooperate and the temperatures were in the nineties early in the summer. The summer was a hot summer from start to finish. The bines grew to twelve feet high and the cones were only one inch long. Due to the extreme heat, the cones dried on the bines and turned brown over night. I am thinking about moving my rhizomes to another location or just digging them up to see if new rhizomes have grown over the past three years. If anyone has experience in moving rhizomes or obtaining additional rhizomes from their original plant, please leave me your comments.