Until now, commercial hop (Humulus lupulus L.) production has not occurred in the northeast (NE) region of the United States for 150 years. Vermont production peaked in 1860 when the state produced 638,767 lbs of dried hops (Kennedy, 1860). A combination of the spread of hop downy mildew, the expansion of production in western states, and prohibition laws from the 1920’s contributed to the decline of the 19th century NE hop industry. Today, the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho remain the dominant hop production sites of the U.S. However, hop production in non-traditional regions is growing and now accounts for over 2% of the total U.S. hop acreage (George, A., 2014). Nationally, there has been recent and unprecedented growth in the craft beer sector which has dramatically increased demand for local hop production.
Hops are native across North America, but European hops and North American landraces were cultivated in northern states from colonization to prohibition. Genetic markers have been used to classify wild North America germplasm (Bassil et al., 2008; Peredo et al., 2010). Wild or naturalized hop plants are in the Northeast landscape, yet they are not grown on a commercial scale. Downy mildew disease pressure is currently one of the biggest concerns in NE hop production. It is possible that naturalized plants have evolved arthropod and disease pest resistance traits allowing them to persist in the environment. It is critical that we begin an active evaluation of existing wild cultivars and emerging hop varietals to explore their potential to increase NE hop production. Furthermore, assessment of germplasm could aid with the discovery of novel and unique hop characteristics and flavor profiles that could be made widely accessible to producers and brewers.
Vermont, University of Vermont, hop, hop germplasm
Darby, Heather; Bruce, John; Lewins, Scott; and Malone, Rory, "Hop Germplasm Study" (2019). Northwest Crops & Soils Program. 371.