The Great Lakes Hop Working Group (GLHWG), funded by a grant from the North Central Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center, formed in 2016 to provide region-specific pest management support to producers in remerging hop production areas outside of the Pacific Northwest.
According to Erin Lizotte, principal investigator for the working group, the major U.S. breeding program is located and focused on the needs of producers in the Pacific Northwest where conditions are generally hotter and drier. The selection criteria for the breeding program leaves Midwestern and Eastern growers at a distinct disadvantage due to much higher disease pressure. Specialists and resources to support production are also heavily vested in the Pacific Northwest, necessitating the organization and increased efforts of the state universities.
The goal of this working group is to continue to connect and expand the network of hop educators and researchers working in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. as well as Canada. These regions represent similar growing conditions that differ significantly from those in the primary production region in the Pacific Northwest. Current members include 66 representatives from twelve Universities and the Ontario Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs.
Project collaborators hold monthly conference calls from spring-postharvest to share IPM-related information to provide members with the most up-to-date best management practices and conditions. This brings to bear the expertise of the entire region to local pest related matters for producers. Additionally, a listserv is maintained to expedite communication and information exchange within the group.
The GLHWG also convenes an annual meeting of hop professionals and stakeholders (brewers, appropriate state departments of agriculture, etc.) to support sustainable hop production in the greater Great Lakes Region. Invited attendees and members present on current knowledge as it pertains to pest management related topics including plant pathology, entomology, weed science, crop quality, soil quality, fertility, and growth management. A regional tour of hop production takes place with growers and brewers in attendance. Attendees also review, amend, and approve the working group priorities as defined during the previous annual meeting. At this time, workgroup members form expertise teams and appoint coordinators to continue progress in the priority areas identified.
One expertise team (led by Cornell) is working to fund a regional pest guide with region-specific best IPM practices and annually updated state-specific pesticide guides. This group has also just recently published a Hop Scouting Pocket Guide and contributed as authors and technical editor to the Hop IPM Field Guide (Third Edition).
A major benefit of the working group is the ability to develop a clear and consistent list of priorities that guide activities as members move outside the group and represent the region at annual IR-4 meetings, comment on pesticide registrations, or contribute to the development of the Strategic Pest Management Plan for hops.
“It’s exciting to see a new crop take root in our region and introduce a new generation to the challenges and rewards of farming,” said Lizotte. The Great Lakes Hop Working Group will continue to play a critical role in securing the resources the region’s growers will need to be successful.