American Hop Convention offers insights to hop producers

Annual conference draws record attendance.

Photo credit: Erin Lizotte, MSU
Photo credit: Erin Lizotte, MSU

As the craft beer industry continues to grow, although at a slower 8 percent rate in 2016, the number of agricultural producers supplying the industry has grown as well. The American Hop Convention, hosted by USA Hops and recently held in Bend, Oregon, provided multiple educational opportunities for producers.

The convention was also held in conjunction with the Hop Research Council (HRC) meeting. Established in 1979, the HRC is a non-profit organization that provides funding for research that benefits the U.S. hop industry. The annual meeting provided a venue for HRC-funded scientists to provide in-depth hop research reports. Speakers and topics included the following:

  • Madhu Kappagantu, Washington State University, “Management of hop diseases caused by viruses and virus-like agents”
  • Piotr Kowalec/Martin Joseph, Washington State University, “Management of diseases associated with hop stunt viroid”
  • Doug Walsh for Rick Boydston, U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Hop herbicide trials”
  • Tom Shellhammer, Oregon State University, “Identifying brewing qualities that aid hop breeding: Examination of non-essential oil contributions to hop aroma in beer”
  • James Barbour, University of Idaho, “Development of hop integrated pest management strategies”
  • Doug Walsh, Washington State University, “Integrated pest management of arthropods on hops”
  • Mark Nelson, Washington State University, “Integrated management of hop powdery and downy mildew”
  • David Gent, USDA-ARS, “Overwintering biology of the hop powdery mildew fungus: from focal infections to landscape-level spread”
  • Anne Iskra, USDA-ARS, “The multifaceted impact of nitrogen fertilization”
  • Sierra Wolfenbarger, USDA-ARS, “Cascade and powdery mildew: Why, where, and what's next”
  • John Henning, U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Hop genetics”
  • Doug Walsh, Washington State University, “Hop breeding for public variety development”

The American Hop Convention began with a kickoff luncheon lecture entitled: “Impacts of the evolving beer industry on the hop market”. Two concurrent breakout sessions followed the luncheon lecture:

  • Session A (“Precision agriculture”) highlighted new technologies, soil moisture monitoring, control and field monitoring, and the use of multi-spectral camera systems.
  • Session B (“Hop Production for the new or small grower”) highlighted new hop enterprise budgets for 5, 10, and 20 acre growers, hop cultivation and agronomy, and hop niche marketing.

The day wrapped up with a reception where the 2016 Cascade Cup was awarded to Oregon’s Sodbuster Farms. Additional concurrent sessions were held the final day on hop history, and hop production and sustainability. The conference ended with a panel on brewing industry insights and analysis.

For the 600+ attendees, the 2017 conference provided a wealth of information, educational content, and opportunities for networking; presentations will be uploaded to the USA Hops website in the near future.

Mark your calendars for the 2018 American Hop Convention, which returns to Palm Desert, California in January. For something closer to home, attend the upcoming Great Lakes Hop & Barley Conference March 2-3, 2017 hosted by Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Brewers Guild.

Please continue to visit MSU Extension, MSU Extension Hops Webpage, and the MSU Hops News Facebook page for up-to-date information. 

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