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So, the hops I planted last year came back as expected and they look great. Usual guidance is to cut back first bines and let the second batch grow. Both plants have 4-6 healthy bines and I'm trying to figure out what to do given it's now the first of May (in Philly area). Options:

  • cut them all back
  • cut back half (maybe "weaker" bines)

I'd appreciate recommendations or experiences.

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I have been keeping 3 bines per plant with mine. I wait until there are 3 bines that are about one foot long each (or more) and assume these are the strongest. Then I just cut all the rest and continue to prune any new ones that pop up.

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Pruning bines is most critical during the first year when the rhizomes are getting established. The main problem with too many bines after that is that they get hopelessly entangled and it gets harder to pick the flowers. I think they also reach a point where the plant is blocking the sun from itself.

The optimal number of bines is dependant on the amount of space around the plant. If you have room, you can spread out the strings at the top end, arranging them like a fan, and support more bines.

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Certainly don't cut them all back, from my knowledge its best to focus on three bines. If you want a good yield out of your plant, that is generally the accepted number of bines your hop plant will produce good healthy hop cones.

A good referenece is here: http://www.growinghopsathome.com/

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