FAQ - Hop cultivation
Hops can be successfully grown in Italy up to 1200 ms.lm. A mature plant does not fear frost, but it can have lower results in conditions of excessive heat, poor ventilation, bad drainage and inadequate soil preparation.
Since Italy is a country with completely different climatic zones and with terrains of a different nature, it is difficult to be able to give official data. However, if we want to give a purely indicative and non-binding value, we can say that an average production variety is between 0.80 and 1.60 kg per dried flower plant. This figure is obviously based on a cultivation with a fully developed professional plant . These values can be greatly exceeded by adopting adequate technical solutions.
A potted hop plant can almost always be planted. However, it is NOT recommended to plant with frozen soil, too wet, not properly prepared for the plant (digging, drainage, fertilization) and in midsummer if you do not have constant irrigation.
Once the right moment for planting has been chosen, the preparation of the soil will consist of a deep digging, with mechanical or manual means, for at least 30cm depth. It is advisable to incorporate at the time of processing bovine / equine pelleted manure, and cornunghia, in the ratio of 2/3 of both per plant, well mixed with the earth. The plant must be planted in a raised position with respect to the ground level, in such a way as to avoid water stagnation at the collar. It is important to ensure good soil drainage, and if not, add fine gravel when digging. Hops are well suited to pH 5.5-8 depending on the variety. However, we have found that many varieties are well suited to a pH above 7.5. As our plants are supplied in a square pot, it is NOT recommended to break the roots before planting. Immediately after the transplant, a first wetting must follow, if it does not rain immediately.
A hop plant can reach considerable heights, in nature even greater than 10m. A plant grown for amateur use can be kept at a minimum height of at least 3m. There are different forms of training that can be chosen, but the German-style planting is the one we recommend professionally, i.e. poles 6m high above ground, rows every 3m, 1 plant every meter on the row. The aerial supports are made of steel cable with different thickness, to which the spring shoots are made to rise by means of SISAL, Coconut Fiber or Hemp rope, thin steel iron wire. For durability, resistance and ecology, Sisal is recommended.
The adequate distance is 1m between plants of the same variety and at least 2 meters between different varieties, this is to avoid varietal confusion through the roots.
When constructing supports, it is very important to take into account the wind thrust and the weight of the plant with wet vegetation. A mature plant in full bloom, in a professional plant (6m), is estimated to weigh an average of more than 20kg, wet. Therefore, taking this data into consideration, it will be possible to calculate the size of the steel cables, the size and number of anchors to fix the leader. In Italy, the wooden poles with superior quality, price and durability are from Castagno; larch follows, fir is not recommended for duration. The systems that we still follow are built in earth-colored technical concrete poles, with specific engineering calculations for each location and plot.
The cultivation of hops in pots is possible, but if not done optimally, it leads to poor results. When considering growing a hops in pots, one must take into account the adequate air circulation required, correct and constant wetting, optimal fertilization, and exposure. The ideal position for a pot cultivation is with direct sun on the canopy in the morning and with afternoon shade. It is advisable to use a pot of at least 35cm in diameter, without saucer. In the event that the use of the saucer is necessary for a quiet life and good neighborhood, it is good to keep the vase in a raised position with respect to the saucer, in order to prevent the roots from remaining soaked in rainy periods. In the bottom of the pot you MUST create a drainage of at least 3 cm (depending on the depth of the pot chosen), you MUST use a professional soil, possibly with pumice that can be purchased in serious nurseries or gardens. If pumice soil is not available, take the best you can find and add fine gravel or expanded clay. Then transplant the plant at the same height as the level of the pot we sent you, without reloading soil on the collar. For those who have the possibility, the best substrate can be prepared with 40% of Garden Earth / field, 40% of blonde peat, 20% of straw manure of mature stable at least 10 months so friable as to seem loam.
Irrigation both in the ground and in pots is a fundamental factor for the survival of the plant. Hops survive temporary drought, but if it is not properly irrigated in the summer, the vegetation suffers greatly, and there may be little or no flowering. It is good to learn about your soil, and regulate yourself with wetting as you do for a vegetable garden. A summer mulch with wood chips or straw protects the roots from the sun's rays, keeping the soil cooler and the plant needs less frequent watering. Much worse is when you overdo it with wetting, considering that hops do not tolerate water stagnation. In the open ground, the plant needs 4-8lt of water per day in medium-textured soils. It will obviously have to be adjusted according to the nature of the terrain.
In spring, all the shoots can be cut at the base when they reach an average height of 60cm. This practice applies only to plants from the second year with good vigor . After a few days the plant produces new vigorous vegetation, all the same, less susceptible to seasonal fungal diseases. Once the second vegetation will again have a decent height, an average of 3-5 vigorous shoots will be chosen for each stake, plus a couple of reserves if it is necessary to replace someone damaged in the following days.
Hops is a plant that, in conditions of good ventilation and adequate fertilization, is resistant and responds well to attacks from fungal diseases, mites and insects. The main diseases that can occur during the year are: Downy mildew, powdery mildew, mites, aphids, moth larvae, Asian bedbug. To prevent and combat these adversities, it recommends using products with zero residue, natural, or allowed in organic farming due to their limited or non-existent toxicity. Preventive treatments, especially those at the end of the harvest, are crucial for the success of the following year.
The harvest time is difficult to establish because it depends a lot on the photoperiod and the climatic trend. There are early, medium, and late flowering varieties. However, depending on the cultivation area, this indication is sometimes offset. The flowering period can be from August to the end of September.
Once harvested, the hops must be dried, considering an indicative loss of about 3/4 of its weight. A "gentle" drying is what guarantees to preserve the oils and the aroma. This drying is obtained with forced ventilation at 38/42 ° C by making the air pass from the bottom upwards through the cones arranged on a special perforated surface.
Once collected, the cones can be used still green, or dried and vacuum-packed, both in the fridge (if consumed soon) and in the freezer. Pelletizing requires specific equipment with controlled temperature in order not to oxidize the material.
After harvesting, which involves cutting the vegetation at a height of 1m, preventive treatments against downy mildew and powdery mildew are recommended until the plants have gone to rest, and a series of fertilizations rich in microelements, calcium and potassium, to prepare the plant to the following year.
During the winter rest the plant should be left to rest. At the end of winter, the poles and, if necessary, the most exposed young crowns will be treated with mineral oil, in order to suffocate mite grapes and other parasites. rejuvenate it. It is important at this stage to add mature straw manure or similar.
If at the time of purchase the plants are at rest it is not recommended to plant with frozen or too wet soil.
Potted plants can be stored outdoors up to -5 ° C as long as they are protected from rain, kept hydrated properly. For convenience, an MRHOPS hop plant must have a weight between 400 and 800gr. So an average of 500g of weight indicates that the plant is wet enough. Keeping our plants in the kitchen or living room is not advisable, so it is advisable to repair them outdoors even in the sun as is done for outdoor potted plants.
We recommend that you follow what you have read to the letter, and contact us for any questions! Your good result is our satisfaction!