The Texas Hops Blog #2

 

April 28, 2018

Receiving and Maintaining Hops until Planting

The hops we purchased for this study were chosen for a reason.  Some of the varieties are known to be heat tolerant.  Others have been reported by early growers and enthusiasts to perform best in their hop yards.  None have been commercially grown in Texas to date.

To give ourselves a better chance at success, we purchased hops from two suppliers.  Identification of the following suppliers is not intended to be an endorsement of any particular supplier, but simply to provide the reader with details on sources for the study.

Great Lakes Hops of Zeeland, MI – https://www.greatlakeshops.com/ – provided root crowns for live plants which arrived packed safely in sturdy boxes.  These were repotted into 4” pots with general purpose soilless growth substrate within one week.

Freshops of Philomath, OR  – https://freshops.com/contact/ – provided rhizomes packaged in plastic bags.  The rhizomes were separated and laid out in shallow plastic crates, kept under mist in the greenhouse for 3-4 days, and then potted into 4” pots containing the same soilless growth substrate.

The live plants from Great Lakes Hops ‘jumped’ out of their shipping cones almost immediately in the Texas sun.

Late Cluster immediately after unboxing in late March
Same Late Cluster 48 hours later (2 days in the greenhouse)
Again, same Late Cluster 48 hours later (4 days in the greenhouse)
Once again, same Late Cluster 48 hours later (6 days in the greenhouse)

 

Whole plants 1 week after re-potting

 

 

 

 

The rhizomes also got going in the greenhouse pretty well.

Potted rhizomes up close after 2 weeks
potted rhizomes not so close after 2 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This year, some of the hops grower/enthusiasts we have been in contact with in Texas have reported leaf ‘scorching’ or browning when going from the box or bag to directly to the soil in the hopyard, and sometimes even when steps were taken to acclimatize or harden the plants outdoors first.  The growers also report new growth coming out afterwards, but the overall effect on plant performance will only be determined later in the season. This intermediate step of acclimatizing the plants in the greenhouse seems to circumvent that problem so far.  Stay tuned. . . .

The Texas Hops Blog #1

Texas Hops Blog

#1 April, 21 2018

The objectives of this project are to 1) install and manage five research sites for the purpose of growing hops in different climates and on different soils in Texas, 2) evaluate the chemical profile of the hops produced for flavor and medicinally relevant compounds, and 3) report on the results directly to the industry and to consumers through Extension media outreach.  The goal of this project is to facilitate a pathway to success for interested hops producers and end users of this specialty crop.

 

The Project is directed by Jake Mowrer and Justin Scheiner of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension with funding provided by Texas Department of Agriculture under the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

 

First things first.  Hops are the flowers or cones of the hop plant (latin name Humulus lupulus).  They are best-known for their use in the making of beer.  Depending on which hops variety is used, and when in the process they are thrown into the pot, this is where beers get their bitter, floral, citrusy, piney, and other flavors and aromas.  You may be surprised to learn, though, that hops have also been used throughout human history for their medicinal properties.   Hops are reported to produce natural compounds that can be used to relieve insomnia, anxiety, and aid in digestion1.  I myself was surprised to learn that hops can even provide defense for honey bees against the dreaded varroa mite2.

Hops are a climbing perennial plant that grows well in temperate climates (read:  Texas is hot, ya’ll!).  Up north, the hops bines can grow along trellises as high as 20 feet or more.  The varieties used for beer-making are generally grown between the 45th and 55th parallels (latitude).  However, there are native varieties found in all contiguous 48 states of the U.S.  Whether or not these have the same flavor and aromatic characteristics we desire for beer is a good question.

Texas has approximately 300+ craft brewing and or brew pub operations as of 2018, and the industry continues to grow.  Almost every single hop used in the making of Texas beers comes from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Michigan, or even farther afield from Europe.  With Texas’ long history or independent and do-it-yourself innovative-ness, it is not surprising that many of the craft brewers and farmers in the state have started exploring the option of producing their own hops.  However, hops production in Texas is very limited now.  Commercial hops production here could be described as being in the fledgling stage, at best.  Interest is definitely building for investment in hops production here, and yet there is almost direction on how to scale up to commercial production under Texas’ conditions.

Central Texas hops with cones grown in 2017. Photo provided by A. Winkelmann

Therefore, we are going through the steps to produce hops in 2018 – from building hop yards in 5 locations through to harvest and

2018 Hops bines climbing the trellis in Central Texas. Photo by A. Winkelmann

analysis for quality – to inform early and interested future hops growers on the best performing varieties and production practices for Texas.  Stay tuned for more installments throughout the season.

1 https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2108006

2 https://badbeekeepingblog.com/2015/12/03/bees-beer-and-dead-mites/