Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Weekly Check-in @hawksbillhops
Last week, David sent me a photo of one of the Cascade bines that had climbed to 14 feet - nearly the top of our trellis at Hawksbill Hops (due to some slack in the cables, the top height ranges from 15 to 16 feet). He told me that he thought we might be at the top by Friday or Saturday, so I made a point of stopping by to have a look on Saturday afternoon, inviting Dan along to check things out.
This may or may not be the same Cascade, but it was within an inch of the cable. Since we were planning to be there about an hour, I told him we needed to be sure and take a look when we were leaving, in case this one had made it all the way up over the course of that hour. Also, where last week there was only one plant that was taller than me, somewhere between an quarter and a third of the yards - almost all varieties, have gotten over 7 feet, and there are many that have reached 8 or 9 feet.
In the earlier photo from David, I noticed that the plant had begun branching already - this happens as the vertical growth begins to slow, and the plant starts filling out with side branches. He'd sent a photo of a Chinook that was showing this phenomenon, and looking closely at it, I noticed it also had "burrs" - this is the start of cones.
My thinking on this was that it seems early for the first year plants to be setting cones, and it had me very worried: I am counting on a harvest that begins in mid-July and later, and here the plants are maybe two or three weeks early! We're totally not set up for it!
I did the hop yards tour and I found a lot more branching, which is great. In our survey, we didn't find a whole lot of burring just yet, although there is some - this is a Chinook bine that has five or six burrs on a branch. The burrs still have to flesh out to become cones, and then there is a short period of time when the cones ripen - filling with lupulin, which is the magical ingredient they provide to beer.
From the looks of things, I think we are still a month of and maybe longer before Hawksbill Hops is ready for harvest. So that was a relief!
As we were leaving, we walked back over to the 15-foot Cascade. Honestly, I couldn't tell if it had grown at all during that hour - but I bet it did!