There are a few things that you want to pay attention to so that you get the most production possible out of your plants.
- When the plant starts to grow 5-6 vines, take the best 3 and cut the rest back. The reason you are doing this is to prevent over crowding of the vines. 3 main vines will produce plenty of hop cones as it grows. A lot of people believe that you want as many vines as possible to get the best yield. The opposite is true. The plant will spend so much time trying to grow the vines that it will forget about producing fruit (hops). Keep it to 3 main vines and you will get plenty of production.
- Let the plant grow vertically instead of horizontally. If you are going for production you want the plant to be able to grow straight up. It is ideal that you have something that the plant can attach to as it grows. Some will use a fence, or a trellis, or a 2X2 treated board works pretty well. If you can, try to allow the plant to grow 15 feet upward. This really helps the production.
- By growing the plant vertically, you are preventing shading of the vines. Too much shade and the plant will not grow very well. When a hop plant grows horizontally, the strong vines will shade the weaker vines and make it difficult for them to produce hops. Plus, the plant has spent all this energy to grow a vine with little, to no production. By trimming the weaker vine, the plant could have spent that energy in growing more hop buds for you.
- Trim off any leaves that look infected. Hop leaves can grow a mold on the bottom side of the leaf. If you notice this growth, cut the leaf off and dispose of it in your trash. This mold will affect the growth of the plant, and thus, the production of hops.
- You can use fertilizer several times during the growing season for best production. Most store bought brands will work, but Midwest also sells organic fertilizers as well.
- Watch for aphids on your plants. Aphids are also sometimes referred to as plant lice. Hops do not have many insects or animals that you have to worry about because of how bitter they are. Rabbits or deer are not known to start eating a hop plant. But, aphids can cause you issues. Again, Midwest Supplies carries natural pesticides to help you with this problem as well.
If you follow these few guidelines, you should be rewarded in the end with a healthy harvest. Hops can pretty much grow by themselves, but a few simple things will help you get the best production. Keep in mind that these suggestions are for production value, and not ornamental value. Plenty of people like to use hops to cover a fence, or create a natural roof over their patio. These ideas can make your backyard fun, but don't expect to get a lot of hop cones when trying to grow hops this way. Too much energy will be spent in growing the vine and not the hop itself.