- Agronomic: hops
- Crop Production: cropping systems, nutrient management, varieties and cultivars
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: feasibility study
- Pest Management: chemical control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships
This project is intended to collect information on hops production in Maryland that will help potential growers evaluate if this is a viable option as an alternative enterprise for their farm. The focus is on variety evaluation, integrated pest management (IPM) practices, pinpointing correct harvest, evaluating yield potential, post-harvest processing and quality determination. A planting of 24 varieties replicated three times has been established at the University of Maryland, Western Maryland Research and Education Center (WMREC) in Keedysville, Maryland. The varieties were chosen with input from Maryland hops growers who are looking for the most appropriate varieties to produce in Maryland from a production perspective while providing the characteristics desired by Maryland breweries. We also hope to learn if the varieties bred for Northwestern production exhibit different chemical profiles in Maryland that may provide unique qualities to the beer, and thus a market advantage for beer brewed locally with Maryland hops. To furnish this information, chemical analysis of the hops is required. In order to collect this critical information, samples must be sent to a lab for analysis. Proper testing of the hops comes at a substantial cost per sample, which is why we are seeking funding.
Project objectives from proposal:
1.) Collect information on insect, disease, fertility and other management parameters relevant to Maryland producers and develop best management practices for production. Determining this information will help University of Maryland Extension (UME) develop pest and fertility recommendations for farmers to maximize and optimize production.
2.) Determine harvest dates for all 24 varieties at WMREC. Hops quality for brewing can decrease significantly if a timely harvest is not achieved, which is detrimental to both brewer and the farmer. Determining proper harvest dates and harvest parameters for each variety will enable growers to harvest their hops at the correct time specific to the varieties they grow. Harvest recommendations for Maryland will likely vary significantly from recommendations in other areas of the country.
3.) Collect chemical profile data on the 24 hop varieties at WMREC in addition to 10 samples from local growers. Data from multiple locations will allow us to investigate if there are any differences in chemical profile based on spatial variation across the state. Determining the chemical profile of Maryland-grown hops will enable us to compare them to hops grown elsewhere and determine if Maryland hops have more desirable characteristics, which would give Maryland brewers and growers a marketing advantage.