Malting Barley Field Day, Aug 22

Andrew Peterson of Peterson Quality Malt has been malting Vermont-grown grains to supply Vermont’s rapidly growing market of brewers and distillers. He believes that these local businesses deserve a fresh, local product to make their brews and spirits.

Since opening the malt house in 2012, his business has continued to expand as the demand for malted grains continues to increase. Today, Andrew has 160 acres of barley with the plan to expand to 500 acres next year. At the mill, he malts 2 ton batches every 5 to 6 days.

Join us, UVM Extension and Andrew, on August 22, 2017 to tour the barley fields and visit the malting facility. We will start the workshop promptly at 11:00 a.m. at Andrew Peterson’s barley fields on the Van De Weert farm at 3670 Route 7, Ferrisburgh. We will discuss barley harvesting and processing for malt production. At noon, we will travel to Peterson Quality Malt for lunch and tour the facility to learn about malting small grains and grain quality requirements necessary for producing high quality malt.

The field day is free but pre-registration is required to give us an accurate lunch count. R.S.V.P. at or contact Susan Brouillette at 802-524-6501 or

More information about the event may be found in the field day flyer here. This event is supported with funding from the USDA Risk Management Agency and Northeast SARE.

Registration Open for 10th Annual Crops and Soils Field Day, 7/27

Birds’ eye view of the 2016 Annual Crops and Soils Field Day.

Our 10th Annual Crops and Soils Field Day is just 2 weeks away and you are invited!

All farmers, Extension educators, ag service providers, and other interested folk are welcome to attend our annual event on Thursday July 27, 2017 at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, Vermont.

This day-long event provides an opportunity to check out the latest in equipment, ideas and research of the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Program, host for the day. In keeping with the field day’s theme, “A Decade of Innovation–Germination–Application,” the day’s activities will show how the program is tackling challenges faced by farmers through researching new crops and new approaches to farming in the Northeast. Tours will be offered of research trials and sessions ranging from pasture management and precision agriculture to commercial production of new crops with tastings of end-products from crop research.

Registrations will be accepted through July 21 online at or by phone. Contact Susan Brouillette (ext. 432) or Heather Darby (ext. 437) at (800) 639-2130 (toll-free within Vermont) or (802) 524-6501. Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to attend is asked to call no later than July 13. A catered lunch is included in the fee, which is $10 for farmers, $25 for non-farmers. Certified Crop Adviser credits are available.

On-site check-in gets underway at 9:15 a.m. with a guided tour starting at 10 a.m. Participants will tour the more than 3,000 plots of research trials–led by UVM Extension agronomy and soils specialist Heather Darby–focusing on cereal grain and soybean varieties; reduced tillage in silage corn; innovative crops such as hemp, dry beans, hops and milkweed; and cover crops and other soil health trials for forages and perennial grasses, vegetable and field crops.

Afternoon sessions will focus on perennial forages and pasture management; flame weeding technology for vegetables and hops; a look at hemp for fiber arts and CBD (Cannabidiol) oil; new no-till and cover crop equipment; milkweed floss production; and hop yard pest management. Learn more at:

What’s Hoppening with the Hoppers?

First, second, and third instar potato leafhopper nymphs.

As we all know, it has been an impressively rainy season so far here in the Northeast. While the rain has fueled pests like  downy mildew and aphids in our hopyard, potato leafhoppers (PLH) have thus far posed less of a threat to the production of our hops. However, even with lower numbers, these pests can still do damage to regional hopyards. Knowing what to look for and having a management plan to combat these pests will help in preventing plant damage and decreases in yields.

Potato leafhoppers overwinter in southern states and are carried north with the spring wind currents. Depending on winter temperatures, these insects can arrive in the Northeast between late spring and mid-June. The warmer the winter, the further these insects will travel north. Leaf hopper populations typically peak around July 1 depending on when they arrive and then start dying down around the beginning of August. While damage from these pests will soon start coming to an end for this growing season,  PLH management should continue over the next months.

When scouting for leafhoppers, hop leaves should be turned over and observed. PLH are long and skinny and move from side to side. Adults are larger than their nymph counterparts and are winged. When searching for adult potato leafhoppers, leaves of the hops plants can be shaken and the adults will often fly away.

PLH may be confused with aphids which are much less active, are round in shape and are often found between the midrib and veins of the leaves.

If you identify potato leafhopper in your yard, management options include:

  • Pyrethroid Insecticide application (make sure it is labeled for hops);
  • Bio-control like lady bugs and other predatory insects; and
  • Installation of trap crops like red clover or alfalfa.

Dr. Lily Calderwood recently reviewed management options as part of our Vermont Hops Power Hour  webinar series.

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

Not properly managing the leafhopper can cause significant damage in hop yards and dramatically reduce yields. The leafhoppers have piercing-sucking mouthparts that damage the leaf tissue and stem phloem of the plants. This feeding technique causes necrosis of the leaf known as hopperburn, where  the tip and outer edges of the leaf to yellow and then brown. Hopperburn reduces the photosynthetic capacity of the plant and thus reduces the energy available to produce cones. That said, it is imperative that leafhoppers are managed in some way or another.

With the rainy summer we’ve had, there’s a good possibility next season will be drier. With a drier, warmer season comes more potato leafhoppers. Preparing for the leafhoppers for next season may be a key to success in producing higher hops yields in 2018.

It’s a Wet One!

All spikes indicate a day or days when there is high risk for downy mildew. Click on image to enlarge.

Well, 2016 was a droughty growing season, but so far 2017 is shaping up to be quite the opposite. This damp weather can be a problem for a few reasons but especially because it creates a haven for downy mildew infection which can greatly reduce harvest yield. Since mid-April, we have forecasted that 45% of days between April 15 and June 6 have had a high risk for disease incidence. Plants are very vulnerable to downy mildew infection during periods with prolonged moisture on the shoots and foliage. For more information on downy mildew, please be sure to check out our earlier blog posts about downy mildew.

Similar to the 2015 season, the cool, damp weather has set the hops back in their vegetative growth.  June is a very important month for physiological hop development. By the time the plants reach the top of the trellis, the number of cone-producing side shoots will be determined. Hops are a photoperiod sensitive crop, so if plants are unable to reach the top of the trellis by the time the day length changes (generally on summer solstice, June 21) and begin their reproductive phase, they will not produce as many cones.

Keep your fingers crossed for drier weather! And remember to keep calm and hop on.

Beware of Bull Shoots!

Bull shoots emerging from a hop hill. Click on image to enlarge.

Due to the cold, wet weather this spring, our hops have been a little slow to emerge from the ground, but they’re finally ready to train!

If you’ve been looking at your hopyard and thinking the same thing, be cautious of bull bines.

These bines are the first shoots to emerge from the ground in the spring, and while they look tall, vigorous, and inviting, avoid training these shoots!

Bull bines produce fewer side arms than regular shoots and can yield 400-600 pounds fewer dry hops than the later emerging shoots. Bull bines can be identified by their physical characteristics — they are hollow, stiff, and brittle. Since they grow so quickly, they have long intermodal spaces too.

Regular shoot (left) as compared to a bull shoot (right). Click on image to enlarge.

Their color is another way to identify them — they tend to be purple. In comparison, regular shoots are flexible, more green in color, and less hollow; these shoots also have a shorter internodal space than the bull shoots.  These shoots are slower to emerge, but the difference in cone yield is worth the wait!

We recommend removing the bull shoots from the hills, so the plant can allocate more nutrients and energy to growing the more productive secondary shoots.

Happy training and remember to keep calm and hop on…




Got Downy Mildew?

As you know from previous What’s Hoppening posts, the first signs that a plant is infected with downy mildew will be basal spikes. But these are not the only symptoms of downy mildew.

Downy mildew on aerial spike. Click on image to enlarge.

As the season progresses, aerial spikes and infected leaves will begin to appear. Like basal spikes, aerial spikes are indicative of systemic plant infection. Aerial spikes have similar features to basal spikes, except they’re found on your trained plant rather than on the ground! Both side arms and the main bine may become aerial spikes if they are infected with downy mildew. Aerial spikes have the same chlorotic appearance and short internodes as basal spikes. If an aerial spike is a trained bine, it will stop growing and fall off its string. It is important to remove these infected bines and train only healthy shoots to produce the highest yielding crop and keep downy mildew from spreading to uninfected plant material.

Infected leaf with downy mildew lesions. Click on image to enlarge.

Leaves may also be infected with downy mildew and are an indication of in-season infection. When downy mildew infects a leaf, it creates necrotic lesions, delineated by leaf veins. These lesions are angular and have very distinct edges, which can help with disease identification. Leaf lesions may also be covered in spores after wet periods, so be careful handling these leaves to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Downy mildew can be a tough pathogen to fight, but there are options. Increasing air flow is a simple and straightforward cultural control. By maximizing the breeze in your hopyard, you can reduce the amount of time your foliage spends wet; this decreases the time that downy mildew is producing spores. Stripping the lower 2 to 4 feet of foliage once a plant is trained and established can reduce moisture, as well as keeping weed biomass low and driverows mowed.

During the season, fungicides are your friend. In wet weather, you should be prepared and ready to spray biofungicides during the day prior to an expected rain event. There are a variety of conventional and organic fungicides registered for hop use. If you live in Vermont, a list of OMRI-approved biofungicides can be found in the 2016 Hop Biofungicide Trial Research Report.  It is very important to only apply fungicides that are listed in your state for use on hops so be sure to check the label.

For more information on downy mildew in hops, check out a recording of our webinar with plant pathologist David Gent and/or visit the resources on our website. Until next time, keep calm and hop on.

April Showers Bring May…Downy Mildew

Basal spike infected with downy mildew. Click on image to enlarge.

Although the rain is a welcome change from last year, all this moisture indicates that it is prime downy mildew season! Since April 15, we have had 8 days with a high likelihood for infection at the hopyard at Borderview Research Farm in Alburgh, VT, compared to only 2 at this point last year.

Downy mildew is the most persistent hop pathogen in the Northeast and can be difficult to control. Downy mildew sporulates in warm, moist conditions, and can spread very quickly. Plants are most at risk during rainy days because the plant’s stomata, or pores, are open during the day, leaving an open pathway for disease invasion. If there is excess moisture on a hop plant and spores are present, leaves may become infected in as little as 1.5 hours in warm conditions! Shoots may become infected if moisture persists for 3 hours.

Chlorotic basal spike with leaf desiccation. Click on image to enlarge.

Downy mildew is a systemic infection–once your plant has downy mildew, it is infected for life. After the growing season, downy mildew overwinters in the crown of an infected plant. The first sign of infection in spring is the presence of basal spikes. Basal spikes are chlorotic, or yellowing, and have shortened internodes, or the space between leaf pairs. A severely infected basal spike may also have desiccated leaves. It is important to remove all infected spikes and train only health plants. By leaving infected material in your hop yard, you risk infecting healthy plant material.

Basal spikes may be removed using sanitized equipment (clippers or scissors), but sanitization is key!  If you’re not taking proper precautions, you run the risk of spreading fungal spores to healthy plants yourself! Basal spikes may also be removed through crowning, a process that mechanically removes the first growth of the season as well the top of the crown.  This serves the dual purpose of removing inoculum as well as removing plant material that can be infected.

To help you with scouting downy mildew on basal spikes, we have created a sheet you may use to tracking and documenting downy mildew in your yard: For more information, visit our website and/or check out the article, Managing Downy Mildew.

And remember, stay calm and hop on.


Recruiting NE Hop Growers for Pest and Nutrient Management Project

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 (

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

Six-Year Study Shows Hop Insect Patterns

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:



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

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 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!

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