Michigan Organic Hops Production: utilizing current IPM models to investigate biocontrol effectiveness on hops pests and diseases in an organic production system

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $5,993.90
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Jeffrey Steinman
Hop Head Farms LLC

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: hops


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, no-till, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil microbiology, organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal summary:

    The biggest problem this project will address will be to evaluate insect pressure and effective control methods on a crop that up until three years ago only existed in history books (1870's-1920 or so). As a horticultural crop in Michigan, hops has only recently resurfaced with the concurrent research of the Northwest Experimental Station in the Traverse Bay area and the initiative of a handful of wine-grape and cherry growers who were searching for other viable alternatives to their current crops. Current research being undertaken by MSU research addresses evaluating suitable varieties for Michigan production, soil parameters, leaf chlorophyll content, quality of the harvested hops (alpha acid, ratios, hop storage index), disease resistance, insect dynamics, and suitable cover crops for planting between the rows of hops. What we seek to do is determine the level of insect pressure, mainly aphids and spider mites, and develop thresholds for action to combat them with environmentally friendly (OMRI) certified products and beneficial insect releases. Modern horticultural tools available are better suited to protect and keep hops crops protected from the disease and insect pressures that drove production out to the Pacific Northwest many years ago, namely aphids, mites and mildews. Utilizing these modern tools will help reduce the reliance on harsh pesticides that have potential for bioaccumulation; both point and non-point source run-off; and insect and disease resistance potential. Because hops are a newly resurgent crop there is no current hard evidence for the North Central Region on pest control options. This is what we seek to solidify - to assist others endeavoring in hops production to be more successful and environmentally friendly. Many products are currently being used in the greenhouse and nursery industry that are reduced-risk and/or biological in nature, however they may not be labeled specifically for hops production in the North Central Region. We seek to clarify the potential of some of the products for use in both conventional and organic hops production systems. Beginning in the spring with the addition of more rows of newly planted hops we will set up experiments with biological products used for root protection. These newly added rows will serve as experimental plots for the OMRI pesticides and biological agents we intend to use. The first half will be trial plots; the other half of the newly-established rows will be control plots. The same IPM experiments will be conducted on our existing portion to determine the effects on more mature one- and two-season-old established plants. Also special yellow sticky cards for IPM will be in place, using the cards to track pest levels and weekly leaf sampling to determine pest pressure. Beneficial mites and wasps will be used to control a number of common pests including thrips, aphids and spider mites. The addition of drip irrigation and organic fertilizer will assist in creating the best growing environment for both the hops and the pests that feed on them and ensure a sufficient supply of vegetative material from which to sample. The most limiting factors for growth of hops are quantity of sunlight, irrigation, and nitrogen. By supplying the variables of irrigation and nitrogen (organic fertilizer) at consistent levels throughout the season we will be better able to evaluate the effectiveness of the disease control products and beneficial insect products we intend to use. Separate experiments will be conducted for root zone management and above ground pathogens as well as a separate experiment for insect monitoring and pest control.

    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.