Washington State University Research Center Will Be Home To Public Hop Breeding Program

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WSU-IAREC secured as operating partner facility for landmark hops research.

The Brewers Association—the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers—announced the execution of a subaward designating the facility for its public hop breeding program. The subaward between the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and Washington State University (WSU) designates the Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center (WSU-IAREC) at Prosser as the operating partner facility.

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The completion of the subaward represents phase two of the process to increase public hop breeding effort for the purpose of developing and releasing disease resistant aroma hop cultivars into the public domain. The process began with the execution of a trust agreement (announced in Oct 2017) between the Brewers Association and USDA-ARS.

“The execution of this subaward is a major milestone in the process of adding public hop breeding capacity,” said Chris Swersey, supply chain specialist for the Brewers Association. “WSU remains a historically important partner in public breeding. Locating the USDA-ARS breeding program at WSU leverages existing facilities and knowledge, and marks the return of public breeding to Washington, the leading hop producing state.”

The U.S. hop and brewing industries are experiencing unprecedented expansion, currently supporting over 360,000 jobs and valued at $33 billion. This growth has created strong demand for new and existing hop varieties nationwide. Concurrently, chronic loss and isolated catastrophic loss from pests and diseases have increased because of the lack of broad spectrum, durable resistance in the varieties demanded by the market place.

The program’s research will prioritize breeding efforts in four areas: sensory requirements as determined by the Brewers Association through a collaborative and participatory brewer and industry stakeholder program; improved downy mildew resistance; improved powdery mildew resistance; and improved agronomic performance compared to existing aroma cultivars.

“We’re pleased to have consolidated all of the USDA and Washington State University advanced-cycle hop germplasm at the Washington State University Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC) located in the Yakima Valley. Over 75 percent of U.S. hops are grown in close proximity to IAREC,” said Doug Walsh, Ph.D., research director, Environmental and Agricultural Entomology at Washington State University, Prosser-IAREC. “We look forward to the hire of a USDA Hop Breeder in the near future and a successful partnership amongst the USDA, WSU, and the Brewers Association in the development of robust and well acclimated publicly sourced hop varieties with desired brewing qualities.”

With the operating partner facility secured, the USDA will next move forward to hire a professional breeder.

About the Brewers Association

The Brewers Association (BA) is the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. The BA represents 4,000-plus U.S. breweries. The BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a widely adopted symbol that differentiates beers by small and independent craft brewers. The BA organizes events including the World Beer CupSM, Great American Beer Festival®, Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America®, SAVOR℠: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, Homebrew Con, National Homebrew Competition and American Craft Beer Week®. The BA publishes The New Brewer® magazine, and Brewers Publications™ is the leading publisher of brewing literature in the U.S.

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