Growth and Production of Hops (Humulus lupulus) Varieties in the Helena Valley (MT)
Hops (Humulus lupulus) production has been rapidly increasing in the United States due to the rise in popularity of craft beer. The majority of the hops produced in the United States currently originates from Washington due to the ideal climate conditions and historical infrastructure development. In Spring 2017, we planted commercial varieties of hops and measured their growth over the course of the summer before harvesting in early autumn. Additional varieties were planted in Spring 2018. Average aboveground dry biomass and height measurements were gathered for each plant bi-weekly. No significant difference was found for any of the plants in either year for both average height or average aboveground dry biomass. While Montana has been a top producer of malting barley and has a well-established and expanding brewing industry, it currently lacks commercial hops production. This study aimed to determine if hops can grow as well in the Helena Valley and Montana as they do in Washington, and if a certain variety grows best in Montana. The data gathered from this experiment could provide avenues for breweries to source locally-grown hops. While this project will require several more years of the hops establishing themselves in the field site before they will reach optimal production, we found that hops are capable of being grown in the Helena Valley.