What is pH?
pH stands for potential hydrogen. The H in pH is always a capitol letter because it stands for the element Hydrogen. The term was first used by a Danish biochemist Søren Peter Lauritz Sørensen in 1909. pH is actually the level of Hydrogen ions in a solution.
The scientific formula is pH = -log[H+]. negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion????
You say ‘huh’? Me too..
No need to explain the science. Better to explain the practical use and need for pH.
So what is pH actually and why is it so important to us hops growers?
PH is the measure of acidity, neutrality or alkalinity in a solution or mixture. The pH level can be 0-14. Zero is very acidic, 14 is very basic or alkaline. 7.0 is considered neutral. Distilled water is pH 7.0.
The pH scale is exponential. Which means that a solution with pH of 4.0 is 10 times more acidic than a solution with pH of 5.0. And a solution at pH 3.0 is 100 times more acidic than a solution at 5.0.
An example of something very acidic would be lemon juice which has a pH of about 2.0.
Something ver basic would be bleach at 13.0.
And coffee at 5.0 would be 1000 times less acidic than lemon juice at 2.0 !!
This chart shows why the proper ph is important for hops. it shows at what pH certain elements can be absorbed by your plants. As you can see a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 is ideal.
Although there are certain varieties of hops (and other plants)that prefer slightly more acidic water and soils, at our hopyards, we use 6.2-6.5 pH for our soil and our water. At those levels, all nutrients can be absorbed quite well by the roots of our plants.
One of the biggest mistakes we can make is to use water with an incorrect pH.
I cannot express how important it is to test (SEE tip #1B) and, if needed, to adjust the pH of your water! (SEE tip #1B)