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Goodbye Hops, Hello Grapes

The last few weeks have been spent preparing for harvest. Mite counts have increased in various fields and scouting densities have slowly decreased in the fields that haven’t had as much activity. Brewers and researchers have been busy visiting the farm in preparation for the upcoming months. I had the chance to attend a meeting with Yakima Chief Hops (formerly Yakima Chief HopUnion) with salesmen and women who work for YCH. At this meeting, Jason Perrault, the CEO of Perrault Farms, Inc. and Yakima Chief Ranches (formerly known as Select Botanicals Group), gave a speech regarding the various new experimental varieties YCR has been developing and how they will affect growers and brewers. Citra® has since been listed as the number one hop variety used in beer, surpassing Cascade which has been the leader for many years.

Following Jason’s speech, Amy Matthews, the Brand Manager at YCR, discussed patents and registered trademarks. I thought the information she provided was very interesting. With hops, a variety has a “code” which the hop is patented under. This code describes the characteristics which make that specific hop unique, allowing a company to patent it. However, separate from the code is the brand name which receives the registered trademark. For example “Ekuanot®” is the brand name of this hop and “HBC 366” is the patent name. Therefore, she wants the salesmen and women at YCR to refer to hops only by their brand name since this is what is trademarked and will be used when marketing the product.

Finally, Jeff Perrault gave a presentation on pre-season through post-harvest operations which included information on planting new fields, training bines, IPM, pesticide application, harvest operations and preparation for the winter.

The last nit of our work at the farm has included the completion of sap analysis, scouting of fields, and roguing. We have been going back through fields that we have rogued and have been using biodegradable survey spray paint to mark the male hills. This will make it easier for our supervisor to remove male hills after harvest. Below is an image of hops that were pollinated by a neighboring male plant. These hops caught my eye because of their large size due to containing seed.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Moxee Hop Festival where I saw this hop picker that was used in the fields back in the 1940’s. A hop picker is used to separate the leaves and woody material from the cones. It is incredible to see the technology that was used back then and compare it to what is being used today!

I complete this post with the last sunrise I will be seeing at the farm. I’m excited to announce that for the last two weeks of my internship, I will be working at Two Mountain Winery in Zillah, WA developing an IPM plan that they can continue to use in their vineyards in future years!

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