Well, it’s the middle of April and there have been a few reports from around the province that hops have been ‘budding’ over the last three weeks. The budding stage is known as the ‘sprouting’ principal growth stage according to the BBCH scale. The BBCH scale is a universal growth stage scale used to identify plant growth stages.
In Norfolk County, Nugget hops (typically considered a mid-season hop) are showing multiple shoots per crown. Willamette, however, typically considered an early to mid-season hop, is further behind with only one or two single shoots breaking the soil surface. This stage of development would be ranked at ‘07’ on the scale (sprouting, uncut).
To determine the hop growth stage in your hop yard, download the BBCH scale here.
In addition to your regular trellis and irrigation system maintenance, there are a number of activities to consider in the next 2-6 weeks.
- If you suspect ‘basal spikes’, sprouts infected with hop downy mildew (Pseudopernospora humuli), you can confirm by submitting a sample to the University of Guelph Pest Diagnostic Clinic. Managament options can include pruning the crown and initial growth to approximately 1 cm below soil level (known as ‘crowning’) and removing any potentially infected plant material from the field. This practice may reduce incidence of downy mildew on re-growth. Allow as much growth on each hill prior to pruning.
- Mount your string or twine from the top wires in preparation for trellising.
- Once the plants have re-grown from pruning (probably 20-30 new sprouts), trellis/train the new growth on strings (2-3 bines per string). Remove other growth around the base of the plant.
The following photo from the American Phytopathological Society (APS) shows hop plants exhibiting downy mildew symptoms (cholorotic (yellowing) leaves, leaves curling down, necrosis (browning) on leaf margins, etc.):
More information on various agronomic and pest management practices will be provided in upcoming posts.
Have you noticed your hops sprouting in your county or region? If so, keep us posted by commenting below!