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

2016 Annual Report for FNC16-1057

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.

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


Upon approval of the grant, work began March 1, 2016.  Substantial research was initiated for the project.

Upon determination that tissue culture labs are cost prohibitive, several tissue culture labs were contacted. One tissue culture lab was able to produce three varieties of Certified Virus and Disease free hop plants. 

Great Lakes Hydrogrow was created for the research and development phase of Virus and Disease Free Hop Plant Production. Our website was produced to disseminate information about this project. 

Objectives/Performance Targets

We began to study the process of tissue culture and what is required to be successful using this method. We studied the uses of tissue culture in hop plant production.  We reviewed the status of current research being completed.  We researched the feasibility of using tissue culture to produce disease free Hop plants.

As a result of our research we located a project using tissue cultures for Hop plant production:

‘Addendum A’  The Elimination Of Viruses And Hop Latent Viroid From Hop In Poland.  ‘2005’

ISHS Acta Horticulturae 668: I International Humulus Symposium



Authors:   M. Grudzińska, E. Solarska
Keywords:   virus and viroid elimination, in vitro culture, meristem tip, hop plants, PNRSV, HpMV, HLVd
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2005.668.19
Hops in Poland are commonly infected with Hop latent viroid (HLVd) and viruses: Prunus necrotic ringspot virus (PNRSV) and Hop mosaic virus (HpMV). Previous experiments were successful in obtaining virus-free hop plants by heat therapy method but appeared to be inefficient for HLVd elimination. In these studies virus and viroid free hop plants were obtained by meristem-tip culture. The meristem tips were excised from lateral shoot tips of naturally infected plants and placed in vitro. In vitro regeneration ability varied between 0 and 46% of regenerated explants depending upon cultivar, depending upon the time at which meristems tips were obtained. The regenerated plants were tested by ELISA for the presence of viruses and by RT-PCR for the presence of HLVd. Plants with no detectable viruses and HLVd were used for further propagation.
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As a result of our investigation of current tissue culture facilities, we discovered one tissue culture lab ‘Hark Orchids’ in Kalamazoo, Mi.  Another tissue culture lab ‘Agristarts’  was located in Apopka, Fl.  Hark Orchids currently produces six million tissue cultured in vitro orchids per year.  We collected meristematic tissue from four varieties of Hop plants from High Five Hop Farm in Marshall, Mi during the month of April.  Tissue was collected from the top three inches of the new growth, then placed  into sterile containers, then transported to Hark Orchid tissue lab in accordance with previously cited study.  Upon tissue culturing samples, two of the samples were found to be virus free.  This result replicates the previous cited study.  Because Hark Orchid are unable to produce rooted plant material we paused for further evaluation of their involvement.  Secondly we visited Agristarts in Apopka, Fl. They currently produce nine million tissue cultured plant plugs a year.  We discovered that they currently produce three varieties of Virus and Disease Free Hop Plants.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Our contact with Hark Orchids resulted in conformation of the study cited in addendum A.  See pictures below. Secondly we are able to purchase Certified Virus and Disease Free Hop Plants from Agristarts Inc.  These plants are considered thumb plugs and need to be grown larger for transplanting to a hop yard.  It is our intent to purchase plant material and increase their size in a sterile environment in 2017. 


Gary Small
Great Lakes Hydrogrow Llc.
2682 25 1/2 mile rd
Homer, Mi 49245
Office Phone: 517-392-3766
Marty Moga

High Five Hop Farm
17310 H Dr. S.
Marshall, Mi 49068
Frank Rinderspacher

General Manager
Hark Orchids LP
5301 Park Circle Court
Kalamazoo, Mi 49048