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I planted my first rhizome this year to try my hand at hop growing. To my surprise the plant flourished and was ready to yield at least a half pound of hops. To my great sadness I awoke this morning to find that aphids had completely ravaged the entire plant.

Next year what can be done to control them and not leave a residue that will end up in beer? I have read a little about the soap and water treatment but wonder if this will leave any aftertaste in a beer.

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I used the soap and water this summer when aphids attacked the pepper plants on my balcony. After a week of misting in the morning and evening with a soapy solution, the aphids were pretty much gone. I assume that rain would have washed off the residue on the leaves and peppers as the peppers tasted fine. I don't know what effect there would be on hops (which is why this is a comment). An alternative is to get ladybugs (you can buy them live in boxes at some garden centres) and let the ladybugs eat the aphids. Again, you'd probably be relying on rain to clean off the aphid residues. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Sep 9 '11 at 16:10
    
should maybe be in the gardening.SE... gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/76/… –  baka Sep 9 '11 at 17:28
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@baka: maybe, though the OP also seems concerned about the effect of aphids on the taste of the eventual beer. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Sep 9 '11 at 20:37
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If we can discuss growing hops for brewing <homebrew.stackexchange.com/search?q=growing+hops>; and picking them <homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/4963/…; then why not the steps in between? I really am just concerned about the taste as I worry if something like the soap and water needed to be rinsed before brewing the hops may lose some of the lupulin. –  Bullet86 Sep 10 '11 at 5:11
    
it's just that there's some crossover, and people that focus on gardening may have better and more comprehensive answers for pest control that will either leave nothing harmful behind or will be safe to consume. I'm not saying, "get off my lawn"; I'm saying, "check out this other lawn, too." –  baka Sep 10 '11 at 17:35

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Cascade or Willamette hops? I grow both, and they are especially vulnerable (or attractive) to aphids for some reason.. more so than other hop varieties. On the other hand, Cascade and Willamette are vigorous and resist mold.

I don't do anything to fight aphids except mulch around the base of the plants. I bought hemlock and wood chip mulch, and mulched for 1 meter in every direction. The hops love mulch by the way, and you have to water them less.

The mulch makes it easy to keep grass and weeds away from the hops. No grass means you expose the aphids to attack by predator insects such as earwigs and wasps and yellowjacks, and birds.

As someone else noted, soap and water reportedly helps but I can't speak to that myself from experience.

You could also look into gardening forums about aphids. Some vegetables and flowers are useful for repelling specific types of insects. Catnip is a perennial and reportedly repels aphids: http://www.pallensmith.com/articles/pest-control-plants

Don't be afraid to plant something next to your hops. (Offtopic, but both pole and bush beans are awesome for injecting nitrogen into the soil... hops love nitrogen! I've started growing beans mid-summer for this reason (not really for the bean harvest).

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They were cascades. The soil they were in was amazing as the plant grew 20 feet tall on each of 8 vines. The aphid thing took off like wildfire! I had looked a few days earlier and not seen many, then when I found them all they had taken over the plant top to bottom. The cones themselves smelled rotten, whereas a few days before they just smelled great. I am going to try the lady bug thing (they had started coming around a lot more as well as a few praying mantis) Thank you for all your good information. –  Bullet86 Sep 10 '11 at 5:12
    
Welcome. I have not tried ladybugs, mainly because I had heard they simply fly off when they feel like it. I think I'd have to witness a local grower try it successfully before I could get over my skepticism. And as others noted, I hear lots of good things about mild soap water. –  ScottInNH Nov 23 '11 at 15:30

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