A UF/IFAS plant pathology professor shared that the hops disease outlook is good if the plants are disease-free from the start.

Researchers and growers alike have been looking at hops as an alternative crop in Florida for the last few years, and UF/IFAS professor of plant pathology, Gary Vallad, recently shared in a Specialty Crop Industry article that the hops disease outlook is good. There are a few caveats concerning the initial health of new plants and plants that have been damaged. See the details below.

Hops Disease Outlook and Starting Healthy

Vallad maintained that most disease issues with hops occurs with plants that arrive already infected. “The only times we’ve seen issues has been when material has been brought in from rhizomes, plant material that was infected. In that case, you really have to watch out for viruses, viroids, downy mildew and powdery mildew. These pathogens can be systemic within the plant. The powdery and downy on hops, at least the downy can be systemic and powdery can hide out in the buds. That can be very problematic.” Vallad said in the article, adding, “We’ve really encouraged growers, and so far, it seems like everybody is listening, make sure if they’re going to get material, make sure it’s tissue cultured and it’s been tested to ensure it’s not carrying any of these organisms.

He shared advice for any grower getting plant materials for growing hops from somewhere other than Florida. “Ideally, it would be something that’s been tissue cultured here in the state. If they get it out of state, make sure it’s coming from a source that actually tests it,” he said in the article.

Watch Vine Damage

Vallad also shared that diseases entering at points where vines have been damaged is the disease issue. “The things that we have seen mostly have been due to just physical damage; some fusarium, a couple of bacterial infections that were just due to damage from wind and rain, pretty minimal (though). Typically, as the vines start growing upward and they grow quite rapidly, usually there’s enough air movement that keeps them fairly dry,” Vallad said.

Vallad maintained that the hops disease outlook was good. “We really have seen minimal issues there. Because the vines grow up so fast up the rope, what you typically get is when we get wind events, it twists lateral growth and that can create damage. Fusarium will come in and try to move in those vines. Usually if you have good wind breaks, (though), that pretty much solves that problem.”

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