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

    October 2021

    Update on variety performance - Herefordshire

    From the grower in Herefordshire:

    "One of the varieties we had intended to trial (12/16/45) had a wilted plant so it is no use to us and we have replaced it with Endeavour which is a dwarf hop from the Wye breeding program. It appears to fit our requirements in that it is quite disease resistant and produces a sound usable hop.

    Variety 64/11/26. This was not quite ripe when I saw it. Peter had seen signs of powdery mildew on it earlier in the season so we will plant it but it may not progress beyond the trial. That 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.

    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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