- Agronomic: hops
- Crop Production: plant breeding and genetics, varieties and cultivars
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Pest Management: genetic resistance
The hop industry in Minnesota is currently growing rapidly in response to a demand by a doubling in growth of the Minnesota craft brewing industry in the past three years. This trend in the rapid growth of both craft brewing and hop production is apparent throughout the Midwest and eastern USA regions. The growing conditions in the Midwest regions are extremely favorable for downy mildew disease of hop, and the sustainability of hop production in Minnesota and the Midwest is threatened by this disease. Currently, the USDA hop germplasm collection is limited to plants sourced from areas west of the Mississippi River, and does not include any of the diversity of wild or feral hops in eastern North America. A single plant from Wisconsin and a single seed lot from Kentucky are the only publicly available hop breeding materials sourced from East of the Mississippi River. Identification, evaluation, and conservation, of new genetic resources not currently present in the USDA GRIN seed accessions provides a stepping-stone towards release of a locally-adapted, disease-resistant for the Midwestern and eastern hop growing regions. The current proposal includes sampling previously identified wild specimens to determine the distribution of native hop communities, their response to infection by hop downy mildew and the amount of phenotypic variation present within and between isolated populations. The long-term goals of this project is to develop elite breeding germplasm and increased grower awareness of varietal selections for mitigating disease impact and prevalence in current Midwestern production regions.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Identification of novel germplasm resources and maintenance of these resources in a controlled setting.
- Improved selection of germplasm resources based on susceptibility to reigonal hop downy mildew (P. humuli) isolates.
- Increased awareness and knowledge of hop growers for proper identification and management of hop disease through outreach activities.
Adoption of sustainable practices, including but not limited to planting of resistant or tolerant cultivars allows for reduction of fungicide or pesticide inputs, decreases selection pressure on pathogen populations, and mitigates the development of fungicide resistance. Thus, screening germplasm allows for identification of novel phenotypes that can be introgressed into elite breeding resources and contribute to variety development. These resources can then be utilized by commercial growers to reduce inputs and result in greater economic gain.