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Thread: Hops

  1. #1
    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    Default Hops

    Anybody in the south central area every try to grow hops? I've recently gotten into beer making, and would like to try growing my own when I get back. I'm wondering if I can raise my own hops in my back yard. I'm guessing the plant will grow pretty well, but will it produce cones?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by duckslayer56 View Post
    Anybody in the south central area every try to grow hops? I've recently gotten into beer making, and would like to try growing my own when I get back. I'm wondering if I can raise my own hops in my back yard. I'm guessing the plant will grow pretty well, but will it produce cones?
    Hops are photosensitive, so to get them to flower and mature in Alaska you need to somehow trigger them to think it's getting dark. I've contemplated a few approaches, but decided it wasn't worth it. Ketchikan is about as far north as conventional wisdom says you can grow hops and successfully produce cones.

    If you do want to play around with it, different varieties trigger floral initiation with different amounts of light. Fuggles is one of the more *light tolerant* varieties, and it can initiate flowering with as little as eight hours of darkness. Basically, you aren't going to be able to naturally initiate flowering prior to September 1st in Anchorage, and even then initiation will proceed slowly as you are on the very upper edge of daylight quantity. Low temperatures also promote flowering at longer day lengths, so perhaps our cool weather would promote flowering mid-August, but I doubt it. Again, it will vary according to variety.

    Also, depending on variety, a minimum number of nodes must be present on the vine before flowering. Fuggles won't flower until there are 20 or more nodes.

    Hop cones take about 6 weeks to develop. So, if you were able to get a variety to flower in mid-August, and you were able to keep it growing until the end of September without a killing frost, you might be able to produce some cones. Folks in Fairbanks shouldn't even try, but in Anchorage climate change may be our friend.

    Keep in mind that Hops grow 15 feet tall, and even light from a streetlamp is enough to keep flowering from being induced. I have thought about growing them on a trellis against my house and covering them at night with a blackout cloth blanket in July. A week of 12-hour nights should be enough to trigger flowering, and after flowering is triggered you could return to full length days.

    Of course it's easier to just purchase dried hops, but it would be a heck of a hobby.

  3. #3
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    Other early flowering varieties include Northern Brewer, Spalter, US Tettnanger, Centennial and Saazer. Some folks have gotten Cascade to flower in SE Alaska, so it might be a good choice.

    But, beggars can't be choosers. You can't mail order hop rhizomes to Alaska (apparently it's the law), so you have to get some locally. A couple years ago Arctic Brewing in Anchorage was selling rhizomes in the spring. It might be worth calling them.

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