Development of sustainable quality aroma dwarf hops in both czech republic and the u.K. To supply brewing worldwide

Hops are normally grown on tall wirework up to 7 metres high. This is not sustainable either economically or environmentally. Low trellis technology has proven successful in reducing both inputs and impact, but requires development of new naturally dwarfing hop varieties acceptable for brewing.

The world demand for quality aroma hops continues to be very strong, but the varieties required by brewers can only be grown in traditional hop gardens on a wirework lattice 5 to 7 metres above the ground. The growing of 'tall' hops in this manner can no longer be considered sustainable. Firstly, hop growers are unable to secure the very high requirement for seasonal labour needed for bine-training in May and harvest in August / September. The high cost of this labour is the main reason most hop farms do not make enough profit to invest in structures and permanent staff, if indeed they are profitable at all - such is the fragility of the world-hop market. Also, there are increased pressures on hop growers to reduce the use of agro-chemicals. The environmental policy within the EC is continuing to increase the restrictions on these chemicals, and this in turn reduces corporate investment into new crop protection products. These combine to reduce the availability of suitable control measures to growers. As pests and diseases are inclined to develop resistance to crop protection chemicals, the growers require not only improved chemistry, but also new varieties more tolerant to more adverse conditions. The only option available to growers has been to attempt to grow traditional 'tall' varieties on low trellis wirework (up to only 3m high) such that the crop can be harvested using a mobile picking machine (as manufactured in both CZECH REPUBLIC (CR) and UK). But this has been shown to fail in every hop growing country in the world, all because a low trellis system requires naturally dwarfing hop plants (with short internodes and small leaves). Such plants were first developed in the UK over 15 years ago, and although the variety First Gold (released in 1996) is now widely accepted by brewers, it can only be grown in the UK (hop varieties are very sensitive to latitude). In addition, it is not considered to have an aroma of a high enough quality to replace traditional aroma varieties like Fuggle and Saaz, both of which have a low alpha-acid (bittering) value and possess specific and very complex oil profiles favoured by brewers. All the UK growers pay a voluntary research levy and have recently elected to fund WYE HOPS to start breeding a low trellis hop with a high quality aroma, to replace Fuggle. But WYE HOPS is a small specialist research institute that does not have access to the facilities normally found in larger institutions, and although of a very high standard, the progress of work at WYE HOPS is restricted by lack of resources. However, there is a timely opportunity through this EUREKA Project, to co-operate and meet the needs of both the UK and CR growers. By co-operating through a shared single objective with the UK hop industry, the CR will have access to the naturally-dwarfing plant material at WYE HOPS (and unique to the UK breeding programme) to enable the development of low trellis aroma varieties. The UK industry will have access to science and technology, as well as the agronomic and brewing facilities at the HOP RESEARCH INSTITUTE, to assist in the development of new varieties for the UK. The development of new low trellis varieties in both countries will require field agronomy research to address specific growth habit and plant protection issues. Such work was started in the UK about 15 years ago, but the only facilities now remaining are those at Philip Davies and Son (a UK pioneering hop farm), which conducts independent field research for hop growers including WYE HOPS LTD. Since field research is an intricate part of developing a new variety, it is natural for WYE HOPS to include Philip Davies & Son in the co-operation with HOP RESEARCH INSTITUTE. Through this four year project, genuine co-operation in research will result in new low trellis hop varieties with high quality aroma. It will require the complex interaction of mutually dependent researchers and departments. It will also assist in the promotion of hop breeding services to other countries, (which as yet do not possess naturally-dwarfing breeding material), as well as increase the international exposure of new varieties to international breweries.
Project ID: 
5 885
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
800 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Plant selection/production technology
Market Area: 
Agricultural chemicals

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