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What's Hoppening: Musings from the Hopyard!

Recruiting NE Hop Growers for Pest and Nutrient Management Project

Posted: April 17th, 2017 by hoppenin

Our University of Vermont Extension Northwest Crops & Soils (NWCS) Team is currently recruiting Northeast hop growers for a 3-year NE-SARE project looking to advance pest and nutrient management strategies for Northeast hop production.

As a participant, you will have access to the following opportunities.

  • Complete an introductory survey that allows us to collect basic information about you and your hopyard, your understanding of hopyard management and your project learning goals.
  • Participate in our goScout program. By responding to a handful of short hopyard fertility and pest management questions every other week, we will compile responses to help us all learn more about pest pressure and management options throughout the region during the season.
  • Learn and share pest & nutrient management information through our Hops Power Hour webinars, offered monthly every fourth Monday on the month at noon from April 24 to September 25, 2017. Dr. David Gent, USDA ARS Research Plant Pathologist and author of Field Guide for Integrated Pest Management in Hops, will kick off the series on April 24 to discuss downy mildew management and additional pertinent issues in the early season hoypard.

If you are interested in participating in this project, please click here to complete the introductory survey, but act fast because space in this project is limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have any questions about the project, please email Scott Lewins (slewins@uvm.edu).

As we start this new growing season, remember: keep calm and hop on!

Six-Year Study Shows Hop Insect Patterns

Posted: March 17th, 2017 by hoppenin

Excited for the 2017 growing season? We are…and so are the bugs!

We recently published our final Organic Hop Variety Trial Report that includes 6 years of data on disease, weed, and insect pest populations found in our hopyard, as well as yield and quality performance of more than 20 hop varieties we evaluated.

Our research showed seasonal patterns of the three major arthropod pests of hops found in the Northeast:

  • Two-Spotted Spider Mites (TSSM),
  • Potato Leafhoppers (PLH), and
  • Hop Aphids (HA). 

Mean number of Two-Spotted Spider Mites (TSSM), Potato Leafhoppers (LF), and Hop Aphids (HA) found per leaf by year, 2011-2016, Alburgh, VT. Click on image to enlarge.

We also looked at beneficial insects, including the Spider-Mite Destroyer and its habits.

We found that that the incidence of each pest varies widely by year, based on weather conditions. For example, TSSM populations responded to the warm and dry conditions we experienced in 2012 and 2016, while HA populations tended to favor cool and moist conditions.

PLH seemed to get a big boost out of a warm winter. Because they migrate from the south each season, warmer winters allow PLH to over-winter further north, shortening their journey to Vermont in the spring and early summer.

Average number of Hop Aphids (HA), Potato Leafhoppers (PL), Spider-Mite Destroyers (SMD), and Two-Spotted Spider Mites found per leaf by date, 2011-2016, Alburgh, VT. Click on image to enlarge.

Our research also tracked pest levels throughout each growing season. While overall pest numbers varied greatly from year to year, the populations for each pest usually peaked at the same time of the year. PLH tended to peak in late June, TSSM in the hot and dry periods of late July and early August, and HA populations peaked right around harvest through September. Not surprisingly, the population of Spider-Mite Destroyers (SMD), beneficial arthropods that prey on TSSM, followed TSSM population levels.

Through our study, we found that some hop varieties seem more susceptible to certain hop insect pests. For example, Liberty, Perle, Teamaker, and Crystal seemed particularly sucseptible to TSSM. We observed that Mt. Hood, Liberty, Saaz, Newport, and Santiam were most susceptible to PLH damage. Conversely, Centennial was consistently among the most resistant to TSSM and PLH.

Further research results on pests and variety performance as well as valuable lessons we looked over the past six years in our hopyard can be found in our Organic Hop Variety Trial Final Report at: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/2016-Hop-Variety-Trial.pdf.

 

 

Mark Your Calendar: 8th Annual Hop Conference, February 25, 2017

Posted: February 7th, 2017 by hoppenin

We invite you to join us for our 8th Annual Hop Conference scheduled for Saturday, February 25, 2017.  It will be held at the Sheraton Burlington Hotel in Burlington, VT, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

View our Conference flyer for details.

This year’s conference will include both advanced and beginning sessions as well as hearing from the following presenters during the morning session:  Jaki Brophy of Hop Growers of America, hop crop consultant Julien Venne, brewer Bobby Grim of Foam Brewers, and David Gent of USDA-ARS.

Advanced sessions will include presentations on characteristics of a beer brewed with local hops with Rich Michaels of Saranac Brewery, wild hops and downy mildew resistance with Josh Havill of UMN, pelletizing hops by Tim Kostelecky of John I. Haas, and UVM research updates.

Beginning hop grower sessions including information on hop cost of production, starting a commercial hop yard, constructing a hop yard, hop irrigation, basic hop agronomy and IPM, and harvest and post-harvest processing.

Go to https://www.regonline.com/hopconference to register today!

Speaker panel from 2016 Vermont Hop Conference.

The registration fee, which includes lunch, is $75 per participant and $65 for NeHA members.  There is also an option to view the conference as a live broadcast for $35.  The Hops Live Broadcast will include the morning session and the advanced sessions during the afternoon.  We are sorry that we cannot cover both the advanced and beginning sessions which are being held simultaneously.

On-site check-in at the event opens at 8:15 a.m. and the conference starts promptly at 9:00 a.m.  Please contact Susan Brouillette if you have questions.

Hope to see you there!

Ready for Hop Harvest?

Posted: August 9th, 2016 by hoppenin

It’s almost harvest time, folks! With such a hot, dry year, be prepared for some varieties to be ready earlier than usual. Remember to check the labels on any pesticides you are using to allow the appropriate window between the last pesticide application and harvest.

Have you seen our fact sheet on determining when hops are ready for harvest? Check it out here: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/cropsoil/wp-content/uploads/Hop-Harvest-Determination-factsheet.pdf.

Also, we have a handy calculator for dry matter/moisture content math: http://www.uvm.edu/extension/agriculture/engineering/?Page=hopscalc.html.

Hop harvest timing from 2012 to 2015 at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, Vermont.

Hop harvest timing from 2012 to 2015 at Borderview Farm, Alburgh, Vermont. Click on image to enlarge.

In addition, we put together a chart of harvest dates in our hopyard over the past four years. If you’re located in the Northeast, this might help you ballpark your harvest window.

Note that we use two opposite terms at hop harvest time–dry matter and moisture content. We harvest at a dry matter of 22 to 27% (that’s 73 to 78% moisture). Then, when we dry hops after harvest, we dry them to a moisture content of 8 to 10% (that’s 90 to 92% dry matter). This interchange of terms might seem confusing but that’s just what is used throughout the industry. One more note on dry matter: Since dry matter is the opposite of moisture content, dry matter will increase as hops mature in the field. So if you measure your hops at 18% dry matter, they’re not ready yet!

Good luck with harvest and remember to keep calm and hop on!

See Hops at Upcoming Annual Field Day, July 28

Posted: July 21st, 2016 by hoppenin

Bird's eye view of our hopyard.

Bird’s eye view of our hopyard.

WHAT:  UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Field Day

WHEN:  Thursday, July 28, 2016

TIME: 10 am to 3:30 pm

WHERE: Borderview Farm, 146 Line Road, Alburgh, VT

If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for our Annual Crops & Soils Field Day, register today, as it is just around the corner.  Our theme this year is “Eat It, Drink It, Feed It, Fuel It – Conducting Food System Research Crop by Crop” and we will be featuring the end-products made from the crops we’ve been researching at a ‘Tasting Tent.’

We will be touring the hopyard along with other research trials we are conducting. Hops specific presentations will include:

  • Small-scale harvesters by hopsharvester.com
  • Fertility in our hopyard
  • Pest scouting and identification
  • On-going research trials on Biofungicides and crowning
  • Q and A with the team
Folks tour the hopyard at past annual field day.

Folks tour the hopyard at past annual field day.

Highlights of the day will also include:

  • Tour of research trials
  • New research crops including industrial hemp and milkweed
  • Tasting Tent – several Vermont businesses with locally grown products
  • Innovative equipment
  • Organic weed control strategies
  • BBQ chicken lunch
  • And much, much more!

Register today!! Cost is $25 per person (non-farmer) and $10 per farmer.  Includes lunch and CCA credits.

See you at the Field Day! And until then, keep calm and hop on…

Summertime and the Living is Easy…Especially if You’re a Two Spotted Spider Mite

Posted: July 13th, 2016 by hoppenin

Adult female two spotted spider mite with prominent black spots on each side (photo courtesy of D.G. James).

Adult female two spotted spider mite with prominent black spots on each side (photo courtesy of D.G. James).

As we are approaching the hottest time of year, with temperatures projected for the 90’s midweek, it is a great time to remind you to be on the lookout for two spotted spider mites. These tiny cousins of spiders also produce webbing, though spider mites use it to protect themselves (from the elements, natural enemies or pesticides), not to catch prey. Spider mite damage occurs when they jam their mouthparts into, and then sucking the life out of, your hops.

Stippling caused by  two spotted spider mite damage.

Stippling caused by two spotted spider mite damage.

At this point of the season, spider mite feeding causes a characteristic stippling of leaves which, at low to moderate levels, doesn’t cause economic injury since there is no apparent effect on yield or quality later in the season. Heavy infestation of two spotted spider mites can lead to reduced photosynthesis or even defoliation. This has led to the economic thresholds in the Pacific Northwest ranging from an average of 5-10 mites per leaf in mid to late July. In other parts of the world, thresholds of up to 60 mites per leaf are used.

Two spotted spider mites on the underside of a hop leaf.

Two spotted spider mites on the underside of a hop leaf.

Hot, dry, dusty conditions, those typical of August, tend to favor rapid two spotted spider mite population growth. Unfortunately, August is also when hop cones are maturing. If spider mites make their way into cones there can be a decrease in quality, and severe spider mite infestations can cause hop cones to become brittle and shatter. So monitoring two spotted spider mites from now until harvest is crucial to ensure mite infestations don’t get out of control.

It is important to recognize that pesticide applications, particularly broad-spectrum insecticides and repeated application of sulfur, can actually exacerbate the problem. Following an insecticide application, spider mite populations are generally quick to rebound, much quicker than natural enemies like spider mite destroyers. This allows spider mites to reinfest your yard without any natural control. Whereas using selective miticides can enhance biological control.

For additional information on two spotted spider mites and much, much more, check out the newly updated Field Guide for Integrated Pest Management in Hops. And of course, keep calm and hop on…

Hop Plant Growth Phases from Spring to Summer

Posted: June 30th, 2016 by hoppenin

As we’ve transitioned from spring to the official start of summer on June 21, our hops have been going through all sorts of physiological changes. Technically speaking, hop plants go through a number of growth phases throughout the year, called “phenophases.” Back in 1995, German researcher Rossbauer and colleagues published an article, outlining specific phenological growth stages of hops, as follows:
HPA - Hop Growth Stages Cover Photo with rossbauer cropped

  • Stage 0: Sprouting
  • Stage 1: Leaf development
  • Stage 2: Formation of side shoots
  • Stage 3: Elongation of bines
  • [They did not include a stage 4]
  • Stage 5: Inflorescence emergence
  • Stage 6: Flowering
  • Stage 7: Development of cones
  • Stage 8: Maturity of cones
  • Stage 9: Senescence, entry into dormancy
Main hop bines reach the top wire (6/29/16)!

Main hop bines reach the top wire (6/29/16). Now we’re ready for the reproductive phase!

While knowing when these individual phenophases occur may help us better fine tune the timing of our management practices, we generally lump hop growth into two phases–vegetative and reproductive. And, because hops are photoperiod sensitive (meaning that day length drives their production), the summer solstice generally marks the transition from their vegetative growth to reproductive growth.

During the spring months, hops focus their growth in the main bines, which climb upright, as well as the leaves growing on these bines. While the day length continues to get longer, the plant is pushing to get the main bines as tall as possible. The amount of vegetative growth ultimately determines how much the plant will yield, so it is important to manage plant health aggressively during this time.

Lateral bine development.

Lateral bine development.

By June 21, hopefully the main bine has reached the top wire of the trellising system (16 feet) since after that point, the length of day gets shorter, and the plants will transition to the reproductive growth phase. The plants may grow a bit taller but vertical growth generally slows. Instead, the plants focus on growing lateral shoots extending from the main bines where the hop cones form. From this point, we’ll see the production of burrs which develop into flowers and then cones.

And in a couple months, before we know it,  we’ll be harvesting our hops! Until then, keep calm and hop on…

Minor Pests = Minor Problems!

Posted: June 22nd, 2016 by hoppenin

The three major pests of Northeastern hopyards—potato leafhoppers, two-spotted spider mites and hop aphids—can cause significant economic losses. For that reason, we keep a close eye on their populations in our research yard by scouting weekly.

Hop looper.

Hop looper.

From time to time, other pests pop up in our hopyard, but because they don’t seem to affect yields, we consider them to be minor pests. We have been seeing greater-than-normal numbers of hop loopers chewing their way through hopyards in Vermont this season. These lime green caterpillars with characteristic “racing stripes” appear to only inch along, but they can defoliate bines at pretty good clip. However, because they don’t cause economic injury, nobody should be losing any sleep.

Another minor pest that we usually find in Northeastern hopyards is, fellow defoliator, the eastern comma caterpillar. Covered with ominous looking spikes, these caterpillars are harmless to the touch and are seemingly harmless to hop grower’s bottom line. In some years, they can easily be found chewing up our bines, but this year it seems they have taken a back seat to the loopers.

Eastern comma caterpillar.

Eastern comma caterpillar.

An additional minor pest poking tiny holes in our hop leaves is the hop flea beetle. The characteristic shot-hole damage of these jumpy little fellas is never found above knee height, and doesn’t seem to affect mature plants.

We have also spotted a variety of other pests that are present at very low numbers in our yards—other caterpillars, thrips, froghoppers, etc.—but like all minor pests, they are of relatively minor concern.

In case you were wondering, there is one pest commonly found in Northeastern hopyards that is conspicuously absent from this blog post–the Japanese beetle! Depending on where you are located and who you talk to, these little ninjas may strike fear into the hearts of growers of many crops (including hops) or merely evoke a passing thought. Regardless, expect to see the skeletonized leaves in the wake of their feeding in your hopyard over the course of the next few weeks.

And of course always remember, keep calm and hop on…

Potato Leafhoppers Have Arrived!

Posted: June 7th, 2016 by hoppenin

First, second, and third instar potato leafhopper nymphs.

First, second, and third instar potato leafhopper nymphs.

It is leafhopper season again and those pesky insects have been spotted at our research hopyard at Borderview Research Farm, in Alburgh, Vermont.  This is a great time to start scouting for insects as well as for disease to ensure proper management of all hop pests. So far, this season has not been conducive for the hop pests that thrive in wet conditions, such as downy mildew and aphids, but the potato leafhoppers have arrived right on schedule.  Potato leafhoppers are migratory insects transported via wind currents from the southern United States, generally appearing in the Northeast between late-May and mid-June.  Our first sighting was on June 2, 2016.

To scout for potato leafhoppers, examine the back of a hop leaf for little torpedo shaped insects with distinctive green coloration.  Young potato leaphoppers, or nymphs, are flightless insects and can be seen scuttling around the leaves in a side-to-side fashion. Adults can also be scouted by checking the backs of the leaves, or for a easier approach, you can just give your plants a little shake and watched the adult potato leafhoppers fly off the plant or jump from leaf to leaf.  At our hopyard, we have only observed adults so far, but that means the nymphs aren’t far behind. Within one season, there are usually two or three generations of leaphoppers present in northern hop yards.

Hopperburn: visual V-shaped chlorosis injury caused by potato leafhopper.

Hopperburn: visual V-shaped chlorosis injury caused by potato leafhopper.

Potato leafhoppers are an economically damaging pest that can cause hopper burn, which is a distinctive yellowing of the leaves in a V-shaped pattern, eventually leading to leaf tip necrosis.  Hopper burn decreases leaf photosynthetic activity and can cause plant production to suffer.

One of the best ways to combat potato leafhopper damage is by planting an alfalfa or red clover trap crop. Potato leafhoppers prefer to feed on these legumes and can be redirected from your hop yard with strategic plantings on the outskirts of the yard or in the drive row.

Stay vigilant and keep scouting!

Important Hop BULL-etin

Posted: May 18th, 2016 by hoppenin

Stringing our hop yard.

Stringing our hop yard.

Things are now in full swing at our hop yard at the Borderview Research Farm!

Last week, we sprayed Avenger, an organic herbicide (OMRI listed), to set back the weeds in preparation for mulch application. We will go back through and hand weed up close to the plants before applying the mulch near the end of the month.

This week, our big project is stringing the hopyard! Our planting density is between 622 and 872 plants per acre, and we tie 2 strings per plant. Our density is on the lower side because of the experimental layout for our hop research. Commercial yards are often closer to 1,000 plants per acre.

Bull shoots growing above the rest; don't train the bulls shoots, remove them.

Bull shoots growing above the rest; don’t train the bulls shoots, remove them.

In preparation for training, we have an important BULL-etin for you: have you ever noticed that the first, most aggressive shoots that come up from your plants are different from the rest? These are called “bull shoots,” and are generally the first shoots to emerge. They tend to be stiffer, more brittle and more hollow than the bendy, softer regular shoots, and can sometimes be more purple in color. Bull shoots produce fewer sidearms than regular shoots and, therefore, yield fewer cones! Therefore, we recommend that you remove them by cutting them or yanking them out – they should yank out pretty easily. Removing the bull shoots will allow your hop plants to focus their energy on the secondary shoots, which have more frequent (close together) leaf nodes and therefore will produce more sidearms and more cones.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress. Until the next post, keep calm and hop on!

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