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What's Hoppening: Musings from the Hopyard!

UVM Extension 2013 Winter Hops Conference – Save the Date!

Posted: December 17th, 2012 by hoppenin

Greetings all!

We are excited to announce the date of the annual UVM Extension Winter Hops Conference!  Please mark your calendars, this year’s event will take place on Friday, February 22, 2013 at The Essex in Essex, VT.  As the date gets nearer, we will post registration details here on What’s Hoppening.  The day is looking to be most illuminating.  Graham Ollard, a hops crop consultant with Agrimanagement, Inc. located in the Yakima Valley in Washington has agreed to trek out to Vermont to share some of his knowledge.  Krista Delahunty and Jason Johnston from Aroostook Hops in Westfield, Maine will also be on hand to discuss the results of their Northeast SARE Farmer Grant, which looked at cover crops and irrigation in a Northeastern hopyard.  Vermont Pub and Brewery and Bobcat Cafe and Brewery are also developing an educational sensory panel with the UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team to highlight the importance of proper drying and storage techniques.

Northeast Hop Alliance Fall Hops Conference

Posted: October 24th, 2012 by hoppenin

Greetings all,

Registration is now open for the Cornell Fall Hops Conference and the Northeast Hop Alliance Annual Meeting, taking place in Morrisville, NY on Saturday, December 1, 2012.  Please click on the link for full details.  UVM Extension’s own Heather Darby will be speaking, along with a long list of other experts.  This event often sells out, so sign up early!  To register, please click here.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and look for the Hops Conference, listed under the host “Madison”.  The deadline is November 23rd!

After the conference there is a Post Conference Happy Hour for an extra fee.  The Fall Conference also happens to coincide with a Home Brew Review hosted by The Colgate Inn in Hamilton, NY.  Overall, it should be a good show.

Are you a business that would like to supply the hop industry in the Northeast?  There will be a Trade Show at this year’s Fall Hops Conference, please click on the link for more details.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Hop Harvest Readiness Calculator – New Online Tool!

Posted: August 27th, 2012 by hoppenin

Chris Callahan was recently hired as the Agricultural Engineer for UVM Extension and is operating out of the Rutland, VT office. He is a long time Crops and Soils fav, and has worked on numerous projects with us, including the hops harvester, oast, and various oilseed projects.  He and Lucy Carrasco, our Assistant Webmaster (and all around superhero) came up with a nifty Hops Moisture Calculator that we thought you might find useful.  (You can even use it on your smartphone!)  You can also download it in Excel.

Hop Harvest Readiness

Posted: August 24th, 2012 by hoppenin

In the Northeast, hop harvest generally begins in mid-August and continues through mid-September.  Harvest date is primarily dependent on the hop variety.  However weather can delay or hasten when a harvest will occur. Another factor that can influence harvest date is pest issues, including heavy spider mite and downy mildew infestations. In the major hop growing regions, harvest is generally targeted when cones reach approximately 23% dry matter.

Determining hop dry matter in a Koster Moisture Tester at left, and with a food dehydrator at right.

To determine your hops target dry matter, randomly sample 5 to 10 sidearms of the same variety from throughout the hopyard.  Samples should be taken from near the top of the trellis, approximately two feet below the trellis wire.  The sample should reflect the state of your yard, and should be taken when there isn’t excess moisture in the hopyard, i.e. after the morning dew has dried, when it isn’t raining, etc.  Pick the cones off of the sidearm into a bucket, and mix thoroughly before selecting a subsample of 100 to 150 cones.

Once you have your subsample you can begin the determination of dry matter. Weigh an empty container in grams.  Weigh the freshly picked hops in the container, and record both weights.  Dry the hops down to 0% moisture.  This can be done one of several ways:

1.)    Overnight in a food dehydrator at 140 – 150°F

2.)    In a Koster Moisture Tester (commonly used to test forage moisture)

3.)    In a microwave or oven, being sure to remove the sample every minute or less to prevent scorching.

Using a food dehydrator will allow the cones to dry to 0% moisture overnight. However, the Koster tester and microwave methods require constant monitoring as they will dry the cones relatively quickly. Once the sample has reached a stable weight, the hops are at 0% moisture.  Weigh the dry hops and record the weight in grams.  To calculate the percent dry matter, use the following equation:



Expected maturities for select varieties can be found in the Yakima Chief, Inc. Hop Variety Guide.

Harvesting too early can reduce the yield of your hopyard and can also have an effect on next year’s yield.  This is especially true for new hopyards, early maturing varieties, or varieties with low vigor, as it disrupts the carbohydrate partitioning into the root system.  Harvesting too early will also disrupt the flavor constituents of your hops as the alpha acids might not have reached peak levels.  However, harvesting too late can also reduce brewing quality and aroma.  Later harvested hops are at risk of accelerated oxidation in storage through the loss of volatile aroma compounds.  Later harvested hops usually suffer from a shortened storageability, as do cones that have been damaged by diseases and/or pests. Be aware that cones that have been damaged by spider mites and other pests are prone to over-drying.

Hops should be dried down to 8-12% moisture (or 88 – 92% dry matter) for packaging and storage.  Cones above this moisture will quickly loose quality due to microbial degradation, and cones below this moisture will fall apart and lose quality due to oxidation.  To learn how to determine cone moisture during drying, and for further information about hop harvest determination, please click here.

You can also check out our YouTube video on Determining Hop Harvest Moisture and Ideal Storage Dry Matter.

To make things even easier, UVM Extension has come up with a Hops Harvest Moisture Calculator!  Click here for the online tool.

Don’t have internet access in your hopyard?  Download the Excel version of the Hops Harvest Moisture Calculator here!


Posted: August 10th, 2012 by hoppenin

Having a good idea of the pest and predator insect populations in your hopyard will aid you in pest control decision-making.  Scouting is an essential aspect of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and will help you identify pertinent pest and pest predators.  The UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team has put together some resources to help you locate and identify pests and predators in your hopyard.  For a detailed look at many hop pests and predators found in the Northeast, please click here.

Please click below to watch a YouTube video on how to scout a small-scale hopyard, and for highlights on what you might find therein.

Japanese beetles on hops in the Northeast

Posted: July 18th, 2012 by hoppenin

Japanese beetles can be a significant economic pest in hops, so proper identification and management decision-making are important if you are going to avoid losses. Check out our article Japanese Beetles in Hops in the Northeast for more information on Japanese beetles and some control options.

NeHA Calendar of Hop Events

Posted: June 27th, 2012 by hoppenin

NeHA has released a Save the Date card of upcoming field days in New York and Vermont.

NeHA will have virus indexed stock plants available on-site at the July 21st field day at Hop Meadow Farm in Union Springs, NY.  Cascade, Newport, Willamette, Perle, Fuggle, and Liberty will be available at $5 per plant in trays of 12.

Stay tuned here for more details on upcoming events!

Downy Mildew

Posted: June 21st, 2012 by hoppenin

Downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora humuli, Miyabe and Takah., Wilson) was one of the major reasons for the decline of hops production in the Northeast over a hundred years ago.  As many of you know, it is still a significant issue here, as well as in yards in the major hop growing areas of the United States and Europe.  While P. humuli is closely related to the downy  mildew that you can find on your watermelons, cucumbers, and zucchinis, the organism does not cross infect, meaning that you don’t have to pull out your squashes to spare your hops, or vice versa.  Downy mildew can cause the complete loss of marketable yield, and even hill death in sensitive hop varieties.  It is a very serious hindrance to successful hops production, but diligent integrated pest management (IPM) can help you manage the disease in your hopyard.  Click here for more information on downy mildew and for best management practices concerning the disease.

For some neat videos on pruning hops in the Pacific Northwest, and to see some of the latest research on fungicide efficacy, check out the Northwest Hop Information Network’s Facebook page.


June Scouting Report

Posted: June 18th, 2012 by hoppenin

You should be scouting in your hopyard at least once a week by this time of year, keeping an eye out for disease, pests, and any nutrient deficiencies.  As you scout for insects in your hopyard, you are likely to find a thriving community. Many of the insects that you find are not a threat to your yields or to hops quality, but there are a few that are noteworthy.  Last year we saw significant damage from potato leafhoppers, those pale green, wedge-shaped insects.  They blow in from the south every year, arriving around the end of May, beginning of June.  Scott Lewins, our resident entomologist and all around good guy, has been out scouting yards all over Vermont, and he reports that they are not only here, but that they are reproducing.  You should be scouting your yard to see if they are above the threshold level of two leafhoppers per leaf, and if they are, we advise chemical intervention.   For Scott’s full scouting report, please click here.

Small-scale hops baler, design 2

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 by hoppenin

UVM Engineering students Yuri Hudak, John Repucci, and Ryan Rzepka have been working hard to complete a second design for a small-scale hops baler as part of their SEED (Senior Experience in Engineering Design) course.  This baler is designed to create a bale of 5 lbs or less.  The design shall soon be posted on our Instructional Wiki site, but in the meantime, you can check out their YouTube video in the video section of our website!

With many thanks to our funders at the Vermont Agricultural Innovation Center and the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development. These funds were secured through the efforts of Senator Patrick Leahy.

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