DRIP IRRIGATION FOR HOP

Cultural background, characteristics and cultivation

Hop (Humulus lupulus L.) is a perennial leafy plant belonging to the family Cannabaceae and the genus Humulus. Presumably of Asian origin, the species has since spread to America and Europe.

The plant has a branched rhizome from which thin climbing stems can rise up to 7-8 metres in height; the stem is hollow, rough and covered in hair (trichomes).

Over the years the root system continues to expand radially from the point of planting and can deepen even up to 2-3 meters. It is a dioicous species (male and female flowers are on different plants).

Only “female” plants are grown for commercial purposes, the flowers of which (also called cones or strobiles) are conical in shape and greenish in colour.

As a geophyte, the hop passes survives winter through rhizomatous organs that remain viable in the subsoil; vegetative regrowth takes place in spring, starting from the crown buds.

The cultivation therefore takes on a seasonal character, with a cultivation cycle of about 7 months (April-October).

Growth and flowering are influenced by the length of the day (photoperiod): the hop is in fact a short-day species; therefore, the reproductive phase begins when the hours of darkness exceed those with light.

Pedoclimatic and water requirements 

In the wild, the hop grows in all temperate climate zones, while commercial production is generally limited to regions between 35° and 55° parallel in latitude, where the temperatures and photoperiod are suitable for optimal development.

The hop needs fresh and deep soil, with a good amount of sand; it does not tolerate water stagnation and therefore requires soils with good drainage. The optimal pH is 6.0-6.2, so slightly acidic ground.

Hop plants tolerate temporary drought but suffer from water stress during critical periods such as the first year of planting and the flowering phase.

Water scarcity during the cultivation cycle can seriously affect the development of the plants, with a drastic reduction in the biomass produced and the quantitative-qualitative yield of flowering buds.

Several studies have shown that irrigation leads to significant increases in yield (over 20-40%) compared to non-irrigated hops.

The seasonal water requirement for hop plants is on average between 5000 and 6000 m3/ha. However, these values are always correlated to the climatic conditions of the growing area, and in particular to the annual rainfall trend.

Irrigation System for Hop

The best irrigation system is certainly the drip-by-drip system, which allows frequent irrigation with low flow rates, favouring the optimal absorption of water by the plants.

Given the short distances between the plants in a row, it is advisable to use spacing between the drip heads of 0.50 – 0.60 meters to create a wet strip along the row, useful especially in the early years after planting to encourage the rooting of young seedlings.

Since cultivation is almost exclusively carried out on flat ground and with rows that are not excessively long, Irritec’s usual solution is for normal drip lines (Junior or Tandem) with flow rates of 1.6 or 2.1 l/h, depending on the company’s water availability.

The most common irrigation system calls for the installation of the dripline on the scaffolding line (at 8.0 m height). In other cases, the dripline can be laid down on the ground along the row or buried at a depth of 0.30 m, effectively creating a sub-irrigation system.

In this case, Irritec proposes the self-compensating dripline with the Rootguard system, which prevents root intrusion into the delivery hole, thus avoiding occlusion of the drip head.

The plants are usually fixed with primary and secondary polyethylene tubing; the installation of an accurate filtration system (primary and secondary) is essential, the sizing of which must be based on a careful physical/chemical assessment of the water.

Fertigation

Drip systems also allow fertiliser solutions to be provided to meet the actual nutritional needs of the plants.

Nutrition is a very important factor in the cultivation of hop plants. In broad terms, the annual requirements of the hop are 200 kg/ha maximum nitrogen, 40-60 kg/ha phosphorus and 150-200 kg/ha potassium, to which zinc and magnesium may be added at particular phenological stages of the cultivation cycle.

For this purpose, the Irritec solution is based on the classic Venturi systems or dosing pumps (MiniDos and SuperDos) or, again, on fertigation benches suitable for the open field (e.g. Dosabox).

Hop cultivation

A practical example of how to drip irrigate hop:

irrigation system for hop designed by Irritec

Here are the Irritec products you need to drip irrigate hop

1

TANDEM AND MULTIBAR™ C

Tandem is Irritec’s classic dripline with a cylindrical drip head. The drip head with double perforation allows increasing the irrigated surface area. The outlet holes of the drip head allow quick and easy installation without the need to check the position of the emission point, ensuring that the tubing is emptied at the end of the irrigation cycle. Multibar™ C Rootguard™is the ideal dripline for subirrigation installations, ensuring high precision delivery during irrigation cycles. The Rootguard™ anti-root system allows the drip line to be buried and last over time without suffering problems of root intrusion.

Driplines for Hop Irrigation - Irritec Tandem and Multibar

2

TUBING IN PE AND CONNECTO™

The Connecto™ line of compression fittings for the conveying pressurised fluids, particularly suitable for irrigation and gardening systems, is characterised by its great speed and ease of assembly.

Pipes For Hop Irrigation Irritec

3

FILTERS

Irritec® filters provide the best filter protection for every irrigation system. The simple and safe structure, the result of precise construction technology, reduces maintenance to a minimum. Resistant to pressure fluctuations and external stress, the filters feature robust and flexible filter elements. Hydraulic tightness is ensured even at high pressures and the filter elements guarantee maximum filtration efficiency. The variety of filtration degrees available (from 20 to 450 mesh) can meet all filtering needs.

Filters for Hop Irrigation Irritec

4

FERTIGATION

Irritec® fertigation systems combine practicality and reliability with a modern nutrient injection system. Fertiliser management is regulated by simple fertigation recipes that can be set according to agronomic and nutritional requirements. Proper hydraulic management, which is essential for conveying the right nutrition to plants, is ensured by years of experience in sizing machines and equipment and by reliable and certified materials.

Fertigation System for Hop - Irritec

5

DRIPLINE FITTINGS AND BRANCHES

Irritec® low pressure fittings and valves are the ideal solution for agricultural and residential irrigation systems. The products have a wide scope of application and are characterised by their ease of installation and assembly. Made from plastics, this product family includes: economical couplings, hose fittings, PE-PVC – LayFlat tubing branches, tape and light dripline fittings, classic dripline fittings, cylinder valves, mini ball valves, ball valves, hydrants, pressure regulators, air vents, threaded fittings and spiral pipe fittings.

DRIPLINE FITTINGS AND BRANCHES FOR HOP

Discover how to irrigate others crops

Irritec wants to make life easier for those who take care of the plants, for work and for passion. We aim to ensure that every drop is spent as well as possible, minimizing the ecological footprint.

Agronomic Irritec Team support the farmer also on after-sale and installation, with continuous assistance and efficiency control. Continuous attention to the customer needs to provide succesful and sustainable solution with an efficience service.