Winter in the hop yard is a time for rest and preparation for the busy spring season.
While the hop bines slumber beneath the soil, there are still some important tasks you can do to ensure a successful grow the following year. Here are some key things to focus on:
1. Maintain the crown:
- Mounding: Cover the hop crowns with a 4-6 inch layer of mulch like straw or compost to insulate them from freezing temperatures and prevent frost heaving.
- Potassium boost: Apply a high-potassium fertilizer before the ground freezes. Potassium helps prevent crown bud damage during winter.
2. Clean up and prep for spring:
- Remove debris: Clear the hop yard of any remaining bines, fallen leaves, and weeds. This prevents disease and encourages air circulation around the crowns.
- Trellis check: Inspect your trellis for any damage or loose parts and repair them before winter storms.
- Inventory and order: Take stock of your hop crowns and plan any replacements for weak or diseased plants. Order replacements before spring rush.
3. Soil and drainage:
- Soil test: Consider getting a soil test to check nutrient levels and pH. This helps you plan proper amendments for spring.
- Drainage check: Ensure proper drainage around the hop crowns to prevent waterlogging and potential crown rot.
4. Planning and research:
- Research new hop varieties: Explore new hop varieties you might want to add to your yard in spring.
- Plan your brewing: Start planning your spring brews and determine which hops you'll need.
- Connect with other hop growers: Join online forums or communities to discuss winter maintenance tips and exchange experiences.
5. Enjoy the break:
Remember, winter is also a time for rest and reflection. While the hop yard sleeps, you can take some time to relax, plan ahead, and dream of the delicious brews you'll create with your next harvest. Interested in hops to make your new craft beer, check out our Partner site at upstatehops.net