Developing a Sustainable Approach to Hop Production in Northeast

Final Report for FNE95-079

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 1995: $5,970.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1996
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
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Project Information

Summary:

Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE95-079.

The development of a regional brewing trade over the past decade has generated interest in reviving the production of hops (the dried inflorescence of female Humulus lupuls L.) in the Northeast United States.

Early season nutrient stresses predicted by lab results, indicated that domestic year residue compost and an enriched compost-based soil amendment broadly applied did not supply adequate levels of major nutrients in root zone of hops. General improvement in plant health later in the season, indicated by robust hop growth and reduction of deficiency symptoms, may be attributed to improved availability of nutrients from composts under warmer soil temperature or mineral fertilizers or both. Absence of insect damage, suggestive of a healthy plant from a balanced nutrition, supports the evolution of a rational mixed approach to hop fertilization, exploiting a range of materials with different solubilities. Late season appearance of nutrient deficiencies in some plants indicates a required adjustment. An ample supply of soluble nitrogen may have predisposed one cultivator to widespread mildew damage.

Cumulatively, these practices have resulted in the first harvest of field grown, commercial quality hops for the brewing trade in New England in nearly a century. Quality standards, evidenced by analysis for bittering acids and sensory examination by professional brewers, compare favorably, with hops grown in established growing regions. Yield data may be regarded as inconclusive, but suggest that some improvement in cultural methods and rigorous selection of varieties may made before direct economic comparison can be made with established hop growing regions. As expected, downy and powdery mildew diseases may prove refractory to control by cultural methods alone.

Cooperators

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  • Don Ross

Research

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.