Important considerations when selecting hops varieties

In addition to purchasing certified plants, there are other important considerations to be aware of when selecting hops varieties.

In previous articles we have emphasized the importance of purchasing certified disease-free plants when establishing a new hopyard. Now that downy mildew has been found in hopyards across Michigan, it is even more imperative. In addition to purchasing certified plants, there are other important considerations to be aware of when selecting hop varieties.

First, you can only sell what brewers are willing to purchase. Based on Michigan State University Extension brewer surveys, the most widely used hop in Michigan is ‘Cascade’. While brewers may be interested in unique varieties, it will be useful to ensure that there is a market prior to setting up an entire hopyard with a unique variety.

Second, as a grower it is important to take into consideration hop yields (pounds) and how they can differ based upon variety. For example, the cultivar ‘Fuggle’ typically yields 1,100-1,600 pounds of dried hops per acre, whereas the cultivar ‘Newport’ typically yields 2,000-2,600 pounds per acre. As you can see, net return per acre has the potential to vary tremendously. For a detailed list of hop varieties and characteristics, please visit USA Hops where you can download the USA hop variety manual.

Third, and of increasing importance, it would be wise to consider disease susceptibility prior to selecting hop varieties. The Field Guide for Integrated Pest Management in Hops lists “disease susceptibility of the 37 primary public hop varieties grown in the U.S.” For example, the bittering hop ‘Nugget’ is resistant to powdery mildew, but susceptible to downy mildew. The variety “centennial” is in demand from brewers around the state, but is very susceptible to downy mildew. The IPM Field Guide recommends planting resistant varieties in areas with known downy mildew pressure (Michigan) and in low lying areas that are prone to cool air pooling.

In sum, there are multiple aspects surrounding variety selection to consider prior to establishing a new hopyard.

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