Developing a System of Tissue Culture and Hydroponic Growing Medium for Hop Plant Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $22,500.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Great Lakes Hydrogrow
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Tim Small
Great Lakes Hydrogrow Llc.

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: hops


  • Crop Production: tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study
  • Pest Management: disease vectors
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities

    Proposal summary:


    Currently approximately 600 acres of hop yards exist in Michigan. Although, plant material is available from a clean plant market, the plants are produced either as rhizome or rooted cuttings. As a result, hop yard growers are experiencing excessive virus, insect and disease problems developing in their hop yards.

    We will solve this problem by developing a system of tissue culture propagation and hydroponically grown in sterile media, a virus, insect and disease free plant is produced. Starting with disease free plants will significantly reduce pesticide application and minimize the environmental impact. I anticipate growers that purchase these plants will realize a significant decrease in cost of maintenance of hop yards. Hop yard owners are experiencing large increases in the cost of hop yard maintenance and plant replacement. This project will improve the productivity of hop yards and add more revenue with less production costs. This will significantly increase hop plant production in the North Central Region and other areas as well.

    Hop yard growers have expressed a need for locally grown, more adaptable plants. Plant material obtained from other areas with current propagation techniques may result in new introductions of viruses, diseases and insects into the hop yard.


    This project will result in propagation of hop plants via invitro tissue culture using meristematic tissue(tissue from very top of new growth) from several varieties of hops. This process virtually eliminates mildew and insects from the new plant. By using meristematic tissue, virus is also eliminated from the new plants. Each plant tissue sample is sterilized and transplanted to sterile medium. This explant is transplanted after a period of 3 to 4 weeks to a sterile rooting medium. Finally the plants are grown in a hydroponic gutter system with sterile root medium (vermiculite/perlite).

    Virus, disease and insects are introduced into hop yards contained within the plant material currently available. Hop yards require massive amounts of chemicals to control insects and diseases. This project meets the requirements of sustainable agriculture by producing a hop plant that requires minimum chemical application. Planting disease free plants will result in lower hop yard maintenance cost and higher productivity due to reduced plant stress.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    1. Produce disease and virus-free hop plants for sale to the commercial hop industry in order to increase growers' productivity.
    2. Determine the market potential for commercial hop plant sales in Michigan and the North Central Region in order to increase hop plant production in the North Central Region and other areas as well.
    3. Share project results by mailing directly to all owners of hop yards in the Great Lakes, posting online, presenting at conferences, and hosting an open house.
    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.