Asked July 28, 2016, 7:48 AM EDT

Hi, I live in South Carolina. I planted several hops rhizomes in April of this year (mostly Cascade hops). Grew to the top of my 13 foot structure and produced about a pound of wet cones.

Yesterday, I harvested them as the cones were ready. I picked the cones but left the bines in tact.

I have read that one should cut back the bines after harvest (but normally hops is not ready to be harvested until fall, closer to frost as they typically grow an higher latitude) Should let them continue to grow and develop more root system since we have several more months of growing season or cut them back now?

I appreciate any thoughts.

Darlington County South Carolina

3 Responses

Yes, I'd recommend leaving the bines (with leaves) out for a while longer so that they can photosynthesie and put down more root reserves going into the fall (esp since they are young plants). You are right, harvest has been pretty early! Here in VA, we've been picking already too.

Laura S.

Thank you so much for your reply. Amazingly quick. What a great resource. It's like having a team of any possible expert at your fingertips.

I was half expecting to hear that there is no way my hops could be ready this early. Thanks for validating.

A neighbor is wanting to grow some hops also and found a source for rhizomes. Is it worthwhile to plant now in an effort to kickstart a better growth in the spring? Or just better to wait and plant in April?

Thanks again for your help. I really value your insights.


Thanks, Pete! I am happy to help.
For your neighbor, I am not sure that he would necessarily fail if he planted very, very late (I have known people to try it, although I am not sure that the results were the best), but if it were me, I'd probably aim for a more timely planting next year. But heck, if cost is not a factor and it's a "for fun" planting, they could always experiment. I just think that the hops put in with a fuller season are going to have a far easier time getting established adequately. Another thought could be a fall planting, if you find a source for dormant field plants, I've known people to put them in in the fall and do pretty well, if conditions work out nicely. Check out the VT hops page--Dr. Holly Scoggins has a research yard in Blacksburg, and she's been sharing photos of her first-year plants that she put in during late fall last year:https://www.facebook.com/HopsVT/
A third option would be to buy plants and put them in during the spring--you will get a bit of a jumpstart with plants vs rhizomes, if you can find some, and while they are more expensive, you typically need one plant per "hole," whereas you may need 2-3 rhizomes per hole to make sure that at least sticks. Most growers get those
I'm sure your neighbor has considered this, but just make sure you buy plant material from a reputable source, whether that be rhizomes plants.
spring plants around April or May in VA.

One thing to be sure of is that the plants are coming from a good source. You can dig up rhizomes from plants or friends' plants, but we have known and heard of situations where this plant material carried in some disease and virus issues, and that's hard to fix. If you order online, make sure the source is an inspected nursery (inspection rules will vary by state, but most reputable plant material sources will make some mention of whatever program their state follows for ensuring clean plant material).

Great to hear that your hops are growing down there, though! We have a lot of interest up here as well. You've got some experts up in NC and some here in Virginia who know far more than I do, but I'd be happy to help you or pass on questions any time--email is laurab08@vt.edu. NC-VA share a regional hops conference each year, and if you're interested, here's the info for 2017:https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-south-atlantic-hops-conference-tickets-26084925715
Also, here's the webpage for NC hops research:https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/nchops/
Southern Appalachian Hops Guild:https://www.facebook.com/Southern-Appalachian-Hops-Guild-329121257578/?fref=ts
and finally, the VA hops website, where we put some resources:http://www.ext.vt.edu/topics/agriculture/commercial-horticulture/hops/