Growth Analysis of Humulus lupulus (Hops) Varieties in Montana
Montana currently has a booming brewing industry yet there is a state-wide lack in the production of hops, a critical ingredient in the brewing process. Hops (Humulus lupulus) are a perennial vine that can grow up to 7.5 meters tall and produce cones (female flower structures) which are used to flavor and preserve beer. Our research analyzed the growth of nine different hops varieties grown in the Helena Valley to evaluate the survival, growth, and yield compared to other regions. For our research, four hop varieties were planted in the summer of 2017 and five additional varieties were planted in 2018. Plant survival was tracked throughout the growing season and winter. The plants’ heights and growth were measured throughout the summer; they were harvested in late August, dried, and weighed. Each hop plant started in 2017 that survived through the first harvest season also survived through the first winter and the second growing season. We found no significant differences in either cone yield or total biomass between varieties during their first or second seasons or growth. While the yields for every variety we tested were lower than expected values (p < 0.01), a likely explanation is that hop plants do not reach maturity until their third year, while ours were in their second year. None of the varieties we tested seem to be limited by the climate in Helena, but future monitoring will provide a better indication of how well mature plants produce compared to other regions.