I was looking at the pics from last year of my hops sprouting and noticed that this year's growth is much more vigorous. This might seem like stating the obvious as they've had a full years growth to establish themselves, even if they were abused a bit in the meantime. I like to see it as confirmation that they are establishing themselves and will only become more productive in years to come. Anyway, here's a side by side comparison for all three. The Columbus:
This year's is on the bottom and I hope it's obvious that the stems are much thicker and there are more of them. They are also more purple in terms of the colour. It seems that these shoots are something of a delicacy on their own. I might have to try this as I'm almost certain that I will be pruning back some of the Columbus. The recommended number of shoots after pruning seems to be 3-4 bines per string and 2-3 strings per plant. This will still leave me with some that need pruning and can become a culinary experiment too. The Cascade has also gotten more vigorous:
And the Willamette:
Even the Willamette is looking a lot healthier in comparison with last year. This is the plant I was most worried about, given that its growth and cones production was a lot less than the other two. There is a distinct possibility that in the conditions I have here that this will continue to be the case. Hopefully it will be more productive this year than last and eventually get to a stage where it provides a good harvest. Having said that, I will be perfectly happy if the Columbus gives me even more cones than it did last year.