From the HBD Archive
From: rcd@raven.eklektix.com (Dick Dunn)
Subject: re: hop vines: vertical or horizontal?
Date: 1992-03-30 19:38:21 GMT

rush@xanadu.llnl.gov (Alan Edwards) writes:

> David Van Iderstine mentioned in HBD #851 that hops should be trained
> sideways, and not up. This has raised a good question. It seems to be
> conventional wisdom that they should be trained straight up--about 20
> feet up in fact...

Hmmm...I'd missed David's note or I certainly would have countered it.
Hops want to grow UP. "Training" them really involves giving them some-
thing to hold on to as they climb, since they're going to *try* very hard
to grow upward.

The commercial hops I've seen were trained along mostly-upward diagonals.

> First, has anyone tried growing hops BOTH ways, and found one way produces
> a higher yield? (Hmm, I thought not.)...

I tried to train hops to go horizontally. We got into a big argument over
it. It wasn't a matter of yield; it was a matter of the hops not being
willing to go horizontal...
Me: OK, gals, you're set up to climb these trellis-things here 'til you
get to the deck. Then there's cord strung up to get you as far as
the deck railing...
Hops: Great! That will take care of us for a month, maybe a little
more. Then what?
Me: Well, then I've got more cord to take you horizontally alongside
the deck rail.
Hops: WHAT??? We don't do "horizontal" We won't take this lying down!
Me: Why not?? Look, what am I supposed to do--set it up so you can
climb all the way up to the roofline?
Hops: You got it, buster. Oh, and you might want to figure out where
we're going after we get to the roof.

I had some of the vines headed mostly-vertical and tried to get others to
go horizontal. They simply didn't want to do it...I'd go out and find that
the vine wasn't winding around the cord. With persistence you can go out
every day and wrap the vine around...but forget about doing it for a day or
two and you've got this anorexic green dragon waving its head in the air,
looking in the window and saying "Give me something to CLIMB, dammit!!"
The ones I forced to go horizontal didn't do well at all.

> I've just planted my hops, and am NOT looking forward to (read: dreading)
> buying a BIG ladder; buying 20' poles; standing them in the ground;
> stringing cable and twine; and trying to harvest hops that are growing
> straight up 16 feet or so.

Just get a pole and forget the ladder. Arrange it so that you can drop
the pole down to the ground--for example, pivot it at the bottom and
arrange to anchor it (to the house or garage) part-way up. (I saw some
antenna-mounting hardware used for this.) Run several heavy cords from
the top of the pole out at angles to the plants.

> The idea of sending them up 6 feet or so and then over to the eves on my
> roof sounds MUCH easier...

Yeah, but six feet is barely a start. Are they close enough to the house
that you can mount a pole by the house and train them along cord up to the
pole (diagonally upward)?

>...And, it would provide a wonderful shade for my
> back yard. It would probably look pretty cool too. Does anyone grow
> them in this way?...

Yes...the lower part of my plants provides seasonal shade for my office.
Nice feature--they fill in just as the weather gets hot. They drop their
leaves around when the days get short, the weather gets cool, and you'd
like more sunshine.

You'll get shade by letting them spread out just a bit as they grow upward;
you don't need to run them horizontally. They really do want to climb.

>...How big is your yield (or is that a personal question)?

(It is, but the yield of my hops plants isn't quite so personal.) It
depends a lot on the age of the plants. Where I am--dry climate, erratic
weather--it took several years for them to get established. The first year
they really grew, I got maybe the equivalent of an ounce dried. Now I get
a good-sized basket of hops from each plant.
- - -
Dick Dunn rcd@raven.eklektix.com -or- raven!rcd Boulder, Colorado

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