Organic hop varieties

Exploring hop varieties untested in organic farming, to enable an increased supply of disease-resistant, local, UK organic varieties.

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Field Lab Timeline

    4/18/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Field lab confirmed

    Field lab confirmed
  • 4/25/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Tall hops varieties planted

    Tall hops varieties planted
  • 6/22/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Tall hops assessments

    Tall hops assessments
  • 7/25/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Kick-off meeting & farm tour

    Kick-off meeting & farm tour
  • 9/14/2021 11:00:00 PM
  • Tall hops yield, quality and brewing assessments

    Tall hops yield, quality and brewing assessments
  • 12/30/2021 12:00:00 AM
  • Hedgerow varieties planted

    Hedgerow varieties planted
  • 7/14/2022 11:00:00 PM
  • Hedgerow & tall hops assessments

    Hedgerow & tall hops assessments
  • 7/24/2022 11:00:00 PM
  • Yr 2 group meeting, planning and farm visit

    Yr 2 group meeting, planning and farm visit
  • 9/14/2022 11:00:00 PM
  • Yield and quality assessments

    Yield and quality assessments
  • 9/30/2022 11:00:00 PM
  • Interim meeting at Stroud Brewery

    Interim meeting at Stroud Brewery
  • 7/14/2023 11:00:00 PM
  • Meeting & farm visit

    Meeting & farm visit
  • 9/14/2023 11:00:00 PM
  • Final yield and quality assessments

    Final yield and quality assessments
  • 10/14/2023 11:00:00 PM
  • Final field lab meeting

    Final field lab meeting
  • 12/30/2023 12:00:00 AM
  • Final report published

    Final report published
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    January 2022

    Preliminary results & yr 1 report published

    The following observations were made by the growers following visits to CFHDP nursery and from assessment in on-farm trials at Lowergate Farm.

    Field observations at Tedney House Farm

    • Sovereign: Control
    • Merlin: Showed high levels of powdery mildew; the farmer is considering removing it. Initially planted ½ acre then added four following the season. Regretted planting the additional without a proper trial
    • 42/10: Showed signs of powdery mildew with low vigour
    • 65/2011/24: Promising, vigorous, generally free from disease although some late season powdery mildew observed on some cones leading to premature ripening and some cone breakage
    • 64/2011/26: Early signs of powdery mildew but infection did not take hold
    • 12/2016/45: Wilt susceptible and discarded from the trial – deselected from the development programme due to susceptibility to wilt and powdery mildew
    • Endeavour: Replaces 12/16/45 as a disease resistant dwarf type almost immune to powdery mildew and very tolerant of wilt but may have problems with late season downy mildew and aphids

    Field observations at Lowergate Farm

    • Challenger: Control
    • Harlequin: Growth was moderate with 50% reaching eight foot in height. Precocious moderate crop harvested by hand from the strongest plants totalling 1kg. Disease resistance was excellent some red spider mite evident but dealt with via bio control
    • Progress: Failure of most crowns to climb up the strings suspect waterlogging of the crowns. Crop failure - cured with ditching
    • Pilgrim: Has a vigorous growth habit and provides a high yield, with good resistance to both powdery and downy mildew, and one of the most wilt resistant varieties
    • 404: Early infection of downy but rapid response in growth. Very vigorous with bold cones weighing well
    • 3294: Weak growth, poor crop. Not optimistic for its suitability but will commit to trial for three years.

    The interim report can be found in the Documents section of this page (log in required, sign up is free).

    Milestone: Tall hops yield, quality and brewing assessments

    October 2021

    Update on variety performance - Herefordshire

    Update from the site in Herefordshire:

    One of the varieties they had intended to trial (12/16/45) had a wilted plant was judged unfit for the trial. This was replaced with Endeavour which is a dwarf hop from the Wye breeding program. It appears to fit their requirements in that it is quite disease resistant and produces a sound usable hop.

    Variety 64/11/26. This was not quite ripe when observed and showed signs of powdery mildew on it earlier in the season. It will be planted but may not progress beyond the trial, which would be a pity as it has a higher Alpha which would be very useful to an organic brewer.

    Variety 65/11/24. This still looks promising. A bit more vigorous, long thin cones towards the top of the plant, but apparently free from disease at the site.

    They are hoping to get the plants in before Christmas if the weather allows.

    Milestone: Hedgerow & tall hops assessments

    July 2021

    Farm visit

    The group met at John Walker's farm in Worcestershire and were shown around his hops yards, including the newly established varieties, followed by a visit to the hops nursery of Charles Faram, hops breeder. The discussions highlighted the layers of complexity and the challenges of hop growing. Key points include:

    • Organic hops growers need to be constantly ahead of the game in terms of varietal selection. Diseases like wilt or mildew adapt, customer taste changes and pests like aphids or spider mites evolve
    • A lack of genetic diversity is one of the main drivers of disease and pest vulnerability in hops
    • With reduced permitted chemical intervention there is increasing need across industry for disease resistance in hops
    • The organic setting may present reduced disease pressure due to better soil health, reduced nitrate inputs and natural predator banks
    • Organic plants require certain characteristics - eg. initial growth/node length to out compete weeds

    There was a need for supply chain understanding about comparative risks experienced by organic vs conventional hop growers (a case for and against organic production): crop losses, costs, premiums received, etc.

    Milestone: Kick-off meeting & farm tour

    April 2021

    Trial design - agronomic assessments

    With support from the researcher, the growers will be trained up to assess:

    • Phenology - Key agronomic data to collect will include monitoring of hop phenology, focussing on date to reach top wire, date of flowering, date of cone development and date of harvest
    • Pests - Hop plots will be assessed for the presence of the damson hop aphid (Phorodon humuli) and two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae)
    • Diseases - Hops will be monitored for presence of verticillium wilt (Verticillium albo airum), downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora humuli) and powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca humuli). Late season diseases of Alternaria, Botrytis and Fusarium to be assessed if present.
    • Yield - Farmers will collect yield data at harvest to compare productivity of the varieties under evaluation in comparison to their control variety

    Milestone: Field lab confirmed

    April 2021

    Trial design - quality and brewing evaluation

    Organic hops quality assessments:

    • Samples of each variety will be collected and assessed in the lab and brewery for key quality attributes.
    • Standard hop cone qualities will be assessed in the lab by Charles Faram to determine end use quality characteristics for brewing. Specific traits to be measured are alpha acid content and an olfactory analysis.
    • Advanced quality analysis to be carried out with beta acid content, cohumulone, oil composition, total oil and flavour intensity with a complete oil profile analysis on the varieties identified from the field trials with most potential for organic cultivation. R&D into flavour compounds in hops has identified key oils linked to particular desirable flavours that the full oil profile provides.

    Brewing assessments:

    • Charles Faram to carry out brewing trials with experimental varieties to compare with control varieties and assess brewing qualities.
    • Stroud Brewery will carry out test brews using the best variety identified from each farm trial based on agronomic performance and hop quality indicators.

    Milestone: Field lab confirmed

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