Growing Hops

by Alan Edwards,

Last year, when I started growing hops, I mentioned my setup and that I would give a report on how it worked.

I grow the hops up 8 feet, then horizontally about 16 feet. My setup works really well. I run the vines up some nylon twine to a galvanized steel wire, that is stretched across two posts, and then across to the eaves of my house.

The first year, only two varieties made it most of the way across to my house, for a total of about 20 feet--Chinook and Nugget. This year, I expect more growth, and may even find some of the vines wanting more line. As I write, three of the varieties have already reached 8 feet.

You only need to twist the new growth around the horizontal part of the twine about every couple of days. It's not that big of a deal to get them to grow horizontally. And it makes picking MUCH easier. I don't need to take the vine down OR use a ladder; I usually stand on a chair-- a step-ladder will do nicely.



This year, instead of training three vines from each plant up one twine, I am training four vines from each plant up TWO twines. All twines are equally spaced. This gives the appearance of having twice as many vines and should make harvesting much easier. Last year's crop got pretty bushy and hard to pick on the more prolific varieties. I also hope that the horizontal part will create some nice shade on my back yard, since the vines will be 1.75 feet apart. I seriously doubt that they will grow together and cause me to misidentify the varieties. I also expect a bigger harvest from this configuration, since I can let more vines grow without worrying about clutter.


Keep new shoots pruned until you see hop cones, then let a couple of vines emerge and wind around the existing vines. You'll have another harvest a few weeks after the first. Keep doing this and you can have several harvests in one season.

If you have some varieties that aren't doing too well (less that 6 vines emerge), go ahead and train them all--it may be your only chance. I had a pretty poor first harvest from my Willamette and Mount Hood last year. Tettnanger didn't do too well either. Some varieties just don't do as well as others. If you are growing Nugget, Cascades or Chinook, expect to trim them regularly. They grow very well. If you don't keep cutting shoots, things can get hairy quickly. The same goes for the long runners that you get coming out of the sides of the vine. Also, if you have the choice, put the least prolific varieties in the part of the garden that gets the most sun--they need all the help they can get.

If at all possible, water the hops with some kind of automatic system. They need much water, and often. I've got mine on a timer that waters them twice a day.

Good luck, and most of all HAVE FUN!