Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hop Cone Drying and Packaging

The hope cones that were harvested last weekend have been dried and packaged. To dry them I took a house window screen I had in the garage and spread the picked hop cones on it. I left it in the garage for 2 days, placed so that air flow could reach the hops from above and below but didn't use a fan or applied heat to help in the drying process.

Once dry, I packaged in zip lock bags, compressing the hop cones to purge as much oxygen from the packaging as I could. I did run into a problem however. When compressing the cones in the bags, I did get punctures through the plastic. To fix this, I used a bag inside bag approach to ensure a seal. For the next harvest, I'm either going to get thicker bags, or possibly spend the money on a vacuum sealer.

In total, I ended up with 1.05 oz of dried cascade hop cones, and 0.35 oz of dried centennial hop cones.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

First Hop Cone Harvest!

Well, after debating on what to do, and looking the plants over, I decided to go ahead and harvest some cones. Several of the cascade hop cones were showing significant browning, and a few of the centennial hop cones had actually fallen off the bines on their own. My wife was kind enough to come take some pictures of me in my first harvest, so now you can see my ugly mug! It was very rewarding getting a chance to harvest my own hops, hoping to brew with them soon. I'm going to wait until my main harvest to brew a 'harvest ale' so, the harvested cones are now sitting in the garage on a window screen to dry. I do not have a vacuum sealer, so once dried I plan on packaging in good quality freezer bags, purging with CO2 to eliminate oxygen from the packaging.

Below are pictures of the harvested hop cones, cascades on the left, centennials on the right. In total, I ended up with 4.5 oz of cascade cones, and only 1.5 oz of centennial cones. Not a lot harvested, but I didn't want them to go bad!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hops Update - July 24 Growth

Since the last hops update, we have had very hot temperatures (95F-98F) and absolutely no moisture. I've been watering every day but still have some leaves browning and some withering due to the heat. We finally hit the hot, dry Oklahoma summer! Overall, the hops are still very healthy (right) and all of the plants are shooting laterals everywhere. The Goldings has finally started producing burrs, so I'm hoping we'll at least see a handful of cones before the end of the growing season! If so, we'll be able to get hop cones off of all the rhizomes planted (First Season!), except for the one heavily damaged by storms early in the season.

Other than the goldings, the other 4 plants all have produced cones and some seem to be ready to harvest based on what I've been reading in the grow-hops forum. All of the plants are still producing new burrs but some of the cones are papery to the touch and starting to brown slightly. I've had a few cones dry enough that they have fallen off the bine, so I may not have a choice on whether to harvest some or not. Pictures: Cascade Hop Bines (above left), Centennial Hop Bines (right), Cascade Hop Cones (lower left), Centennial Hop Cones (lower right).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hop Pictures - Night Shots

I decided to try and take some pictures of the hops at night. I've seen some very interesting pictures of hops taken at night, but think I have a lot more learning to do to get good pictures. Figured I would share some with you anyway.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hops Update - July 17 Growth

A much delayed update for this week, but I'm finally getting it posted. All of the hops are doing well, producing cones and shooting lateral bines everywhere. The picture to the left is of the entire hop yard, all 5 plants. All 5 are well beyond the top of the trellis (8 feet) and running along the horizontal lines. Some of the bines are over 15 feet long! Right, are the 2 cascades, the bines are not growing much in length anymore, but are producing laterals and cones like crazy!

Left is a picture of the one goldings I planted. As of now, it is still not showing any signs of burrs or cones, but the plant itself is very healthy and is shooting out lateral bines everywhere. Hopefully I'll see signs of cone growth soon! Even with the vertical growth of the goldings, it was still creating strong lateral bines at ground level. I let these bines grow to approximately 2 feet in length, trimmed all the leaves off and then buried them in the ground to attempt to create rhizomes for transplanting next year. The picture on the right shows the 2 bines from the main stem being rerouted into the ground.

In the course of watering the plants, the mounds I started with have eroded somewhat, and in certain instances I can see the root growth off the rhizome. The picture on the left is one of the centennial mounds, and if you look closely, you can see the pale yellow/green roots. I'm planning on adding a shovel of dirt to the top of each mound to get all of the roots back below the surface. The last picture (right) is between the 2 cascade plants, looking up from ground level.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hops Update - July 10 Growth (More Cones!)

Well, we were out of town last week, so no update. I was a little worried about the hops, since I wouldn't be around to water them, but luckily we did get one good rain shower while we were gone. The hops sure were ready for a good drink! All 5 plants are doing very well, the 2 cascades (left) are both strong, and putting out cones like crazy. The plant in the right of the picture is sending out a lot of laterals at ground level. Most of these I have trimmed, but a select few I let grow to about 18 inches in length, then trenched them with the tips showing to try and start some rhizomes for next year. The centennials and golding are both doing well (together right). Both centennials are have burrs and cones, but the leaves have a slight yellowing to them, with some brown spots. I'm hoping that is because of not being watered for a week but I'll keep an eye on them just in case.

My largest cascade plant (below left) has just gone crazy. On this plant, I have gone with the alternative theory to not trim back to only a few main bines. I want to see how the production output differs from my other cascade which I have trimmed back to only 4 main bines. As you can see from the picture, it pretty much looks like a climbing bush. At last count, I have 8 bines climbing, with multiple laterials. My single goldings (right) has yet to produce any burrs indicating that cones are coming. The plant itself is very healthy, and shooting lateral bines all over the place but as of yet no cones. On this plant as well, I have buried a few late growth bines that had good mass to see if I can produce some rhizomes for next year.

As indicated above, all but the goldings now have cones, and the cascades have a good number. The first 2 pictures below are of some of the cascade cones.

The 3rd (below right), with the blue cloudy sky as the backdrop is a picture of some of the centennial cones. Surprisingly, the centennial plants started producing cones approximately 2 weeks after the cascade, but the cones are about the same size. I guess this make sense, as the cascade cones are said to be smaller, and centennial cones are bigger.