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Hop to It

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Collecting leaf samples from the hopyard.

I am very excited to be finishing up my first full week of work at CLEREL (Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab) in Portland, NY!  My role this summer as a Cornell Cooperative Extension intern  is to study the effect of predatory mites on two-spotted spider mites (TSSM) as a pest management control in different hop varieties.  Getting started I was about as familiar with mites and hops as you probably are, which was very little.  So I started off last week doing a literature search on anything and everything related to hops and spider mites.  Although I’m not an expert, I would like to think I am pretty familiar with the topic now, so I will share some of this newly acquired knowledge with you.

Hops used to be a prominent crop in New York State about 100 years ago, but pest issues drove the industry out.  With the passing of the Farm Brewery Act last year, hops are once again becoming a hot crop to grow.  The act is part of the “locally grown” movement and in order for a brewery to receive a Farm Brewery license at least 20% of the hops and 20% of all other ingredients in the beer must be grown in New York.  To add to this, Gov. Cuomo just dedicated funding for research in hops and barley.

With the history and politics out of the way let’s get to the research.  Predatory mites are a well-known and frequently-used biological control for TSSM, and research has been done concerning them.  However, only recently has research been done on varietal differences and there still hasn’t been much investigation of the timing of release of predatory mites.  This is where my internship at CLEREL starts.

My job is to run a study on three different hop varieties, Cascade, Nugget, and Willamette, looking at two different release times of predatory mites.  After I completed a solid literature search, I jumped right in on Tuesday by setting up a design for this study and taking leaf samples from the hopyard.  I then spent a day looking at these samples under a dissecting scope and counted all of the TSSM and this week there were a total of 2 mites on the 165 leaves.  I would say that’s a pretty good start.

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