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The Longest And Oddest Day Of The Year

6.4.11 (32)_16x915 hours, 36 minutes and 32 seconds.

That’s how much daylight we’re getting today and tomorrow, making these days the “longest” of the year. And at 10:04pm PDT we reach summer solstice. The official start of summer.

Our Rogue Farms hops bines should be arming out at incredible speeds, growing up to a foot per day. But they’re not. And there’s something else strange going on that has us scratching our heads.

Just the other day we found the first cones of the season growing on some of our bines. Some were tiny like the one you see in this photo. Others were more mature. This is at least two to four weeks sooner then we expect to see first cones – and it’s not necessarily a good thing.

first hop cones

Hop cones grow from an inflorescence, a small cluster of flowers that look more like leaves.

Ideally, we want to see several more feet of growth on the bines before the cones appear. Longer bines have more cones, which means higher yields per acre when we harvest in the fall.

Instead it looks like our bines have decided to bypass the growing stage and get right down to the business of producing cones. What’s going on?

Hop Bines June 2013 web

The bines in the Rogue Farms hopyard are just starting to reach the trellis wires. In a more typical year, they would be longer and fuller before producing cones.

The Wigrich Appellation is very reliable when it comes to delivering sunny weather in June. But not this year. We’ve had lots of clouds and unusually cool weather. We think the bines are confused about what season we’re in, as if they’ve decided that summer has passed them by and it’s time to start making cones before fall arrives.

The situation is unusual, but nothing we haven’t dealt with before. We might need to put some fertilizer on the bines to encourage them to continue arming out. We might have to adjust how we harvest them.

But what would really help us out right now? A normal summer.

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