Breeding hops at OSU

Why Breed Hops at OSU?

Hops are bred at OSU because they are the only institution in Oregon that has the capability to focus on the fermentation quality of hops. They also heavily focus on the raw ingredients for brewing beer to preserve the qualities of the hops while improving the crops performance in the field. OSU’s hops breeding program are well known for their aroma hops which have desirable characteristics for brewing qualities that give beer its unique aroma. Hops are a $40 million industry with 14% of the hop production occurring in Oregon and increasing every year. In the breeding program at OSU, the target growing environment is aimed for the Willamette Valley but they remain open to target other growing regions where hops can successfully be produced as well. Their goals overall for the program is to produce successful varieties and improve existing varieties that allow the hops to be better competitors in the field.

Goals

This program has two main goals.  The first is success in an agronomic setting, or how well does it grow. To perform well agronomically hop plants many factors are taken into consideration.  For any crop, yield is part of the agronomic equation.  Disease resistance also plays a vital role.  This program focuses on resistance to downy mildew and powdery mildew.  Pest resistance is yet another piece of the puzzle.  The most important resistances in the program are to hop aphids, spider mites, and hop loopers. The second main goal of the program is the hop cones’ brewing profile.  It is difficult to initially tell if a particular variety will create a desireable flavor in beer.  The complex chemical contents of the lupulin glands in hops have vast diversity.  When superior agronomic lines are identified they are passed on to testing in sensory panels.  This will help determine the varieties brewing profile, and acceptability to the brewing community.

 

Current Research Projects

This program is in the later stages of sensory evaluation for several hop selections. It will continue using traditional breeding and mutuagenesis techniques to establish high value cultivars.

Graduate Student Expectations

This program’s goal for graduate students is so teach the students how to be an effective breeder and scientist after they graduate and thrive in their field. Most master’s students will go on to become an assistant breeder while Ph.D. students will likely to become a breeder themselves.

Breeding Methods

This program uses traditional breeding methods such as complimentary hybridization and mutagenesis techniques. A short trellis system with increased planting density is used in early evaluation for easier selection of superior phenotypes.

New varieties are typically produced by hybrid crosses. Currently accepted varieties are crossed with male plants with desirable traits. While only cones of the female plants are used in brewing, male selection has to entirely rely on progeny testing. At OSU hybrid breeding is used, but special care is taken to use pedigree records and DNA marker analysis to design crosses between genetically distant parents. A breeding method planned to use in future is population development. In this technique select male and female plants are allowed to randomly intercross. The resulting progeny is then tested for traits of interest, and the selected progeny is used in a next cycle of random intercross. After two or three cycles, individuals can be tested for release as a new variety, or be used in hybrid crosses. The idea behind applying this new technique is to generate new genetic combinations and perhaps break some undesired linkages.

Sponsors

Indie Hops has been an integral supporter of the OSU hops breeding program. They provide funding and are integral to the sensory evaluation portion of the program.

Collaborators

This program works closely with the USDA hops breeding program, also housed at OSU. The USDA program has been active since 1931.

Graduate Student Projects

The hops program is rather new at OSU and the first graduate students’ project will focus on studying induced mutation breeding. They will focus on making subtle but meaningful changes to industry accepted hop cultivars. The goal is to see if advances in disease and insect resistance can be made to current cultivars without changing the chemical properties of the hops that are currently used by the beer industry.

Botany

Hop plants (Humulus lupulus L.) are climbing herbaceous perennials in the Cannabaceae family, and are native to North America, Europe and western Asia. They are classified as bines rather than vines because they climb without the aid of tendrils or suckers, but by winding up a structure. It is a dioecious species; meaning plants are either male or female. The female flower cones, commonly referred to as hops, contain a complex array of compounds within their lupulin glands. Hops for brewing are classified as either bittering or aroma hops. Hops also have other applications that include use as an herbal remedy for anxiety and insomnia.

Economic Significance

Oregon grows over 14% of the total U.S. commercial hop acreage. The U.S. grows over 30% of the commercial hop acreage in the world. Aroma hops grown in Oregon have a reputation for being of exceptional quality. This reputation is largely driven in the state by the extensive craft brewery scene. Craft brewers demand excellent quality and a diversity of flavors. This demand gave lead to the OSU hops breeding program, which hopes to breed high quality hop varieties that can be utilized in breweries across the state, country and world.

Staff Profiles

Shaun Townsend, Assistant Professor - Leader of the aroma hops breeding program.

John Henning, USDA Hop Breeder

David Gent, USDA Plant Pathologist

Publications and Varieties Released

Henning, J.A., D.H. Gent, M.C. Twomey, M.S. Townsend, N.J. Pitra, and P.D. Matthews. (Accepted). Precision QTL Mapping of Downy Mildew Resistance in Hop (Humulus lupulus, L.). Euphytica.

Sharp, D.C., M.S. Townsend, Y. Qian, and T.H. Shellhammer. 2014. Effect of Harvest Maturity on the Chemical Composition of Cascade and Willamette Hops.  J. Am. Soc. Brew. Chem. 72(4): 231-238.

Townsend, S., and T. Shellhammer. 2011. Hop Breeding. In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. American Hops, History. In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Shellhammer, T., and S. Townsend. 2011. Aphids. In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Sterling (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Nugget (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Brewer's Gold (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Bullion (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Comet (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Fuggle (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Townsend, S. 2011. Galena (hop). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Holliland, C., and S. Townsend. 2011. Bere (barley). In G. Oliver (ed.) Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York, New York, USA.

Henning, J.A., M.S. Townsend, D.H. Gent, N. Bassil, P. Matthews, E. Buck, and R. Beatson. (2011). QTL Mapping of Powdery Mildew Susceptibility in Hop (Humulus lupulus L.). Euphytica. 180:411-420.

Henning, J.A., M.S. Townsend, and P. Matthews. 2010. Predicting Offspring Performance in Hop (Humulus lupulus L.) using AFLP markers. J.

Amer. Soc. Brew. Chem. 68:125-131.

Townsend, M.S., and J.A. Henning. 2009. AFLP Discrimination of Native North American and Cultivated Hop. Crop Sci. 49:600-609.

Henning, J.A., A. Haunold, M.S. Townsend, D.H. Gent, and T.B. Parker. 2008. Registration of Teamaker Hop. J. Plant Reg. 2:13-14.

Townsend, M.S., and J.A. Henning. 2005. Potential Heterotic Groups in Hop as Determined by AFLP Analysis. Crop Sci. 45:1901-1907.

Henning, J.A., and M.S. Townsend. 2005. Field-Based Estimates of Heritability and Genetic Correlations in Hop. Crop Sci. 45:1469-1475.

Henning, J., S. Townsend, W. Mahaffee, S. Kenny, and A. Haunold. 2004. Registration of 'Newport' Hop. Crop Sci. 44:1018-1019.

Henning, J.A., M.S. Townsend, and S. Kenny. 2004. Potential Heterotic Crosses in Hops (Humulus lupulus L.) as Estimated by AFLP-based Genetic Diversity and Coefficient of Coancestry. J. Amer. Soc. Brew. Chem. 62(2):63-70.

Townsend, M.S., J.A. Henning, and D.L. Moore. 2000. AFLP Analysis of DNA from Dried Hop Cones. Crop Sci. 40:1383-1386.

Townsend, M.S., and J.A. Henning. 2009. Ancestry and Genetic Variation in Hop Development. In T. Shellhammer (ed.) Hop Flavor and Aroma, Proc. 1st Int. Brew. Symp., Corvallis, OR. Aug. 9-10, 2007. Master Brew. Assoc. of America. p. 91-98. (invited speaker).

Townsend, S., J. Henning, K. Hummer, J. Jackson, W. Mahaffee, and D. Hampton. 2004. AFLP-Based Genetic Diversity Estimates of Wild American Hop (Humulus). 2004. In Symposium Program, 1st Int. Soc. Hort. Sci. Humulus Symposium, 1-7 Aug. 2004, Corvallis, OR (presenter).

Released Cultivars:

  • Teamaker (2008)
  • Newport (2004)