Hops Production in Virginia: Nutrition, Fungal Pathogens, and Cultivar Trials
Judd, Barslund Duane
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Abstract In the United States, hops (Humulus lupulus L.) are grown mainly in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). For this reason, most cultural information is based on the growing conditions of the PNW. Growing conditions in Virginia differ drastically and present unique disease and production challenges. Three studies were conducted with the intent of increasing hop cultivation knowledge for Virginia growers. For the first study, 13 cultivars of hops grown at the Virginia Tech hop yard were compared for growth, yield, and quality. Mean cone fresh weight per plant ranged from 12.00 g for Mt. Hood to 1002.87 g for Crystal in 2016 and from 97.98 g for Mt. Hood to 900.33 g for Cascade in 2017. In 2016, only Alpharoma, Cascade, Mt. Rainier, and Southern Cross had alpha acid levels, an indicator of cone quality, within the accepted range. In 2017, Alpharoma, Centennial, Mt. Rainier, and Nugget had alpha acid levels within the expected range. Three cultivars (Cascade, Crystal, and Ultra) were above the expected alpha acid range, which indicates more bittering potential for beer brewers. In a nutrient deficiency study, hop plants were grown in hydroponic solutions, and deficiencies were induced for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). After visual deficiency symptoms had been induced, leaf tissue samples were taken and analyzed for nutrient content. Images were taken at each deficiency stage. For N, incipient deficiency symptoms were observed at a mean of 3.18% dry weight in leaf tissue samples. Visual symptoms included a chlorotic appearance, undersized leaves, and red petioles. Incipient symptoms for P were observed at a mean of 0.307% dry weight in leaf tissue samples. Necrotic spots, leaf cupping, and undersized leaves were apparent with this deficiency. Incipient symptoms for K were observed at a mean of 1.21% dry weight in leaf tissue samples. Symptoms included rounded leaf tips, blue veins, and marginal scorch. In the third study, a whole leaf powdery mildew (Podosphaera macularis) assay was developed and tested using five hop cultivars, Alpharoma, Cascade, Comet, Sorachi Ace, and Tahoma. Leaves were inoculated with powdery mildew (PM) using a settling tower. This method was used to rapidly assess the resistance of cultivars. Leaves were successfully inoculated and PM colonies were allowed to grow for two weeks. Images of the PM colony development on inoculated leaves were compared using ImageJ to determine percentage of coverage. Tahoma was the only cultivar found to produce a significantly different mean percent coverage (19.5%) compared with the resistant cultivars Cascade and Comet (<1%).
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