High Quality Beverage Raw Materials for the Craft Brewing Industry

2016 Annual Report for LNC13-349

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $196,953.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2017
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Carl Duley

High Quality Beverage Raw Materials for the Craft Brewing Industry


Project continues to progress very well.  Hop and malting barley farm cooperators continue to be essential for the success of the project.  2016 was extremely wet in Wisconsin, with many regions in Wisconsin setting record annual rainfall.  Excessive rain provided both clarity and challenges to our work on hops and malting barley. 

Hops probably suffered more from the excess rainfall with a reminder once again that timely fungicide applications are essential.  Any stands that are more than 3 years old fought with Downy for the entire growing season.  Malting barley grown by farmers in Western Wisconsin once again made malting specs for craft brewers which was very exciting given the intense growing season.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Hop Emphasis:

  • Continue Hop Downy Mildew identification and control.
  • Study the life cycle of Hop Downy Mildew under Wisconsin conditions at four sites throughout the state.
  • Study pathogen persistence and reproduction under Wisconsin conditions.
  • Clean plant propagation success in the field.
  • Begin Hop soil fertility study.


Malting Barley Emphasis:

  • Continue to study spring malting barley varieties under Wisconsin growing conditions.
  • Participate in Dr. Kevin Smith’s winter malting barley trials.
  • Establish Dr. Brian Steffenson’s winter plot, “Vavilov Barleys’ for Winter Hardiness Assessments.
  • Study fungicide timing and application in spring malting barley.
  • Gather data on nitrogen application rates on spring malting barley under Wisconsin growing conditions.


Hop Emphasis:

Seventh Annual Hop Conference was held on March 12, 2016.  Emphasis was on experienced growers 86 participants.

 Topic included:

  • Jaki Brophy; Communications Director, Hop Growers of America, Washington State,   “Hop Growing in The US:Where We’ve Been, Where We Are Now, and What Growers are Doing to Stand Out”
  • Dr. Amanda Gevens, UW-Extension, Plant Pathology    “Wisconsin Hop Disease Update”
  • Michelle Marks;  UW-Madison, Plant Pathologist   “Hop Disease: What we saw in 2014 and  2015.  What to Watch for in 2016”
  • Joshua Havill; UMN, Department of Plant Pathology  “Into the Wild: In Hop Pursuit” (MN wild hop breeding program)
  • Dr. Jed Colquhoun, UW-Madison Department of Horticulture  “How do Hop Herbicides Work?”
  • Ruth Genger; UW-Madison, Plant Pathology Lab   “The Wisconsin Clean Hop Planting Stock Program Update”
  • Joe Katchever; Owner and Brewmaster, Pearl Street Brewery, “Our History and Our Beer”

Hop Summer Field Day held in one location.  Designed for experienced growers and focused mainly around disease control and soil fertility.  60 growers from Wisconsin and Minnesota participated in these field days.

  • Amanda Gevens, UW-Extension Horticulture Plant Pathologist
  • Jed Colquhoun, UW-Extension Horticulture Weed Specialist
  • Michelle Marks, WI SARE R&E Hop Research Project
  • Carrie Labowski, UW-Extension Fertilizer Specialist
  • Tours of harvester and processing equipment
  • Field tours of hop yard

Malting Barley Emphasis:

  •  28 winter malting barley varieties were planted in October, 2015, and about 70% did very well.  Proteins seemed a little high for craft brewing malting quality, but more test years are needed to understand their true characteristics.  Once again, a winter plot was established in October, 2016.  The unusually late freeze allowed these plants to grow larger than desired, and as of this report 85% of the varieties seemed to have survived the winter.  Farmers are very excited about the possibility for winter barley as they seem to yield higher, have less disease issues, fit better into the rotation, and provide better cover on steeper soils than spring barley.  One Buffalo County farmer did contract with a malter to grow 45 acres of a winter malting barley.
  • Spring varieties were planted once again in two locations, Buffalo County and Chippewa County.  Nine varieties were included in the 2016 replicated variety plots.  All were malted by the USDA Cereal Grains Unit in Madison, WI.  Six of the varieties showed good malting qualities, two varieties seem to have consistently high protein levels undesirable in brewing, and one heritage variety had many agronomic characteristics that made it suffer to a point that it was not suitable to harvest.
  • A fungicide plot was also included in two locations in 2016.  Plots included no fungicide, fungicide for leaf diseases only, fungicide at heading only and two fungicide applications.  All were replicated with two different varieties of barley (Pinnacle and Genesis) and each was replicated four times.  Data is still being analyzed, but preliminary data looked like there may be some advantage to the Genesis variety and maybe just fungicide at heading.  These trials will be conducted again in 2017 along with a trial using generic fungicide to compare control with lower costs pesticide.
  • A nitrogen fertilizer trial was also conducted with Pinnacle barley with rates from 0 to 120 pounds of nitrogen.  Data was mixed and the trial will be run in 2017 for a third year of data.
  • A twilight meeting was held at each plot location.  A total of 45 farmers and brewers participated in the meetings.  Four graduate students from the University of Minnesota attended the seminar and explained their major areas of research.
  • Five farmers in Buffalo county grew 170 acres of Pinnacle barley under contract with Rahr Malt in 2016.  All acres of the barley made malting grade and preliminary micro-malt samples looked very good.  The barley will be malted in early 2017.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Hop Emphasis – Presentations and Meetings:


Malting Barley Emphasis:


Jerry Clark

Crops and Soils Educator
711 North Bridge Street Room 13
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
Office Phone: 7157267955
Dr. Amanda Gevens

Professor, Plant Pathology
689 Russell Labs
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Office Phone: 6088903072
Tim Rehbein

Ag Agent
Suite 392 318 Fairlane Drive
Viroqua, WI 54665
Office Phone: 6086375276