Growing Hops: Dealing with Pests

I am trying my hand at growing hops this year. I have two vines going; Cascade and Centennial. Both the vines are growing steadily, however a few days ago I started noticing some holes in some of the leaves. I turned the leaves over to see if there were any bugs on their underside. Whaddya know, some little caterpillars, happily eating away:

I read up on suggested solutions to rid my vines of the pests. The most promising non-chemical solution I found was called Neem Oil. It’s the extract from Neem treem leaves. It’s a super bitter oil that makes surfaces very un-inviting to pests. It comes as a concentrate (shown below) or a pre-mixed spray.

I bought the concentrate. It was expensive ($20 for the 16oz bottle). However, it should last me a long time, and I can mix up some for my hop-growing friends. 1oz of the concentrate makes about a gallon of spray.

Yesterday, I cleaned the visible bugs off the leaves and sprayed the underside and tops of the leaves with my mixture. No pests have come back yet. Next week, I’ll give them another dose, and then it’s once a month from there.

Oh, and be careful mixing up the spray. Neem Oil won’t hurt ya, but it stinks and is really really bitter. So if you get some on your hands, wash em well or keep your fingers out of your mouth :)

2 Responses to 'Growing Hops: Dealing with Pests'

  1. Shaun says:

    I was thinking of picking up some of those pre-grown hop plants from Homebrew emporium and try growing them on my shed this year. Will keep this definately in mind insects will ruin all the hop fun.

  2. Jonathan Greene says:

    It’s fun, and they grow to be really nice looking vines. Try to find a place that gets a lot of sun. Also, just grab some rhizomes from the homebrew store. They look like little twigs, and are about $5 a piece I think. The rhizomes will sprout and grow like crazy.

    Have fun!

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