- Agronomic: hops
- Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
- Pest Management: genetic resistance
- Production Systems: general crop production
Hops are considered a highly sustainable crop that is in high demand by the growing and rapidly expanding craft brewing industry. Hops are sustainable due to their perennial nature, once planted if properly managed they will sustainably produce a high income for family farms for up to 20 years or more. Hops do not rely on high amounts of fertilizers or pesticides, however management of these inputs is critical grow after 3rd year once major production occurs.
The purpose of this grant project is to research the effects of variety selection, insect and disease pest management and nutrient management to increase yield, hop brewing characteristics and hop quality in six hop cultivars that have been identified to be most in demand by craft breweries. Although there is increasing demand for hops posed by the growing number of microbreweries, nano-breweries and home brewers and a resurgence of hop cultivation as an alternative crop in the North Central Region of the U.S., no studies have been designed or conducted to compare yield performance various popular hop cultivars and to assess which varieties perform optimally throughout Ohio. U.S. craft beer growth hit double digits at 12.6 percent in 2010 according to Mintel Group, Ltd., a large international marketing research firm. The Brewers Association defines craft brewers as small, independent and traditional in their methods. Mintel Group Ltd., in its Beer: The Market-US-December 2011 report dates the trend to 2003 and projects its continuation through at least 2016. As of 2012, there are 44 craft beer manufacturers in Ohio who send an estimated $4 million out of Ohio annually by purchasing hops from producers outside the state. During the 19th century, the Northern Ohio Valley farmers were increasing hop production and usage. Unfortunately, by the late 1920s, devastating diseases such as downy mildew and powdery mildew destroyed nearly all of the east coast crops, leaving domestic production to the increasingly efficient western United States, which is responsible for producing more than 30% of the world’s hops today, virtually all of which can be found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Northern California.
However, with advances in hop production technology and the establishment of several Ohio hop production farms or “hop yards”, such as Hop ‘n’ Pepper Farms, LLC, Heartland Hops, and Hop Focus, and farmers in Ohio can once again profitably grow hops in Ohio commercially. It is estimated that within the first year growers can expect a hops yield of 200 to 1,800 pounds per acre, depending on the cultivar, with an estimated value of $2,000 to $25,200. In the second and subsequent production years, yield increases to 500 to 2,200 pounds per acre valued at $7,000 to $30,800.
Although these numbers coupled with increasing demand suggest that hops are potentially valuable alternative crop, little is known about the performance and quality of various hop cultivars across Ohio. Therefore, goal of the project is to assess and compare 1st and 2nd year (and beyond) yield performance in six popular hop cultivars (Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Galena, Northern Brewer, and Willamette) in replicated field experiments at three elevations in Ohio. The three hop farms involved in project are located in Southeastern (Hop ‘n’ Pepper Farms, LLC, Athens, OH, 39.3292° N 82.1014° W, Elev. 723´), West Central (Heartland Hops, Fort Recovery, OH, 40.4128° N 84.7764° W, Elev. 942´) and Northeastern Ohio (Hop Focus, Orwell, OH, 41.5350° N 80.8683° W, Elev. 896´), therefore covering the 3 major latitudes across the state and all three farms experience 38 – 39.5 inches a rain and 150 – 178 frost-free days annually.
March, 2015: Establish baseline soil samples (conducted by OSU Piketon Research & Extension Center).
March – April, 2015: Tilling and planting 20 Cascade, 20 Centennial, 20 Columbus, 20 Galena, 20 Nugget, and 20 Willamette rhizomes, mulching and install drip irrigation. Rhizomes will be irrigated at 1 gl/hr for 3 hrs, twice/week during the summer depending moisture requirements (8 gl/plant/week total).
May, 2015: Twine hung and anchored, start training hop bines, and thin hops to four bines/hill to encourage growth.
July, 2015: Prune bines.
August, 2015: Year 1 plant health inspection of each hop yard by Dr. Trese.
August – September, 2015: Harvest and weigh year 1 hop yield from each plant. Dry and freeze hops. Send dried whole leaf hop samples of each hop cultivar from each hop yard for High Performance Liquid Chromatographic (HPLC) analysis of the Alpha and Beta acid levels. Perform statistical analysis of harvest data using SASS. October –
November, 2015: Produce 2015 Hop Performance Report (plant health, yield, Alpha and Beta Acids) for each cultivar at each hop yard.
March, 2016: Submit Progress Report to NCR-SARE.
March, 2016: Follow-up soil samples (Fairfield County OSU Extension Office).
May, 2016: Hang and anchor twine, start training hop bines, and pruning excess bines. Reinstall drip irrigation lines. Plants will be watered at 16 gl/plant/week.
July, 2016: Prune bines.
August, 2016: Year 2 plant health inspection of each hop yard by Dr. Trese.
August – September, 2016: Harvest and weigh year 2 hop yield from each plant. Dry and freeze hops. Send dried whole leaf hop samples of each hop cultivar from each hop yard for HPLC analysis.
October – November, 2014: Produce 2014 Hop Performance Report (plant health, yield, Alpha and Beta Acids) for each cultivar at each hop yard.
March, 2017: Submit final Project Report to NCR-SARE.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Research the effects of variety selection, insect and disease pest management and nutrient management to increase yield, hop brewing characteristics and hop quality in six hop cultivars that have been identified to be most in demand by craft breweries.
- Benefit the environment by helping farmers determine proper variety selection and variety-specific production requirements for their growing region, possibly reducing amounts of pesticide and fertilizer used to grow a high quality hop that is acceptable in the growing craft brewing industry.
Provide the background information for farmers to adopt this new high value crop to Ohio, which can provide income opportunities for small acreage family farms.