Virus and Disease Free Hops

    Hops diseases and deficiencies.

    Hop Diseases and Deficiencies

    A little information on virus and disease free hops.  Generally you do not need to worry about virus and disease free hops.  If a hop rhizome or hop plant vendor sold a diseased product, how long do you think it would take in today’s connected world for word to get out?  There is an actual disease free / virus free hops product out there, but they only come from the Pacific northwest – Oregon and Washington states – nowhere else at the present time to my knowledge.  These VF (virus Free) plants are certified by Washington State University.

    Hops, like any other plant are susceptible to viral, bacterial and fungal diseases as well as pests and nutritional (to the plant) deficiencies.  Here is a list of hops diseases.  If you chose to buy a virus free varietal, make sure it has documentation to back it up.  Some unscrupulous vendors have been claiming their hop plants to be disease and virus free because they are created from cuttings as opposed to rhizomes – THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DISEASE FREE PLANTS. Below is an excerpt from an actual hop farmer who knows what he is talking about.

    For those of you with questions regarding potted hops. We have noticed some people are selling potted hops as virus and disease free. They have claimed that the plant is virus and disease free because it comes from a cutting and not from a rhizome. That is not true. You see, the diseases that they are talking about are systemic. This means it is and will be all throughtout the plant or as stated in the dictionary: Systemic = “Relating to or affecting the entire body or an entire organism”. Always. So any new growth will have these diseases. Namely hop stunt viroid (HSV), powdery mildew, and vert wilt.

    If the claim is that the cutting is virus and disease free then it has had to come from a plant that was certified virus free(VF). The only people in the country offering those, to my knowledge, is the Washington State University Hop clean program.  And these have only been offered to individuals in the Pacific Northwest.

    The other consideration is the fact that almost all of the propagated varieties come from the northwest. Many of them from the Oregon State, and Washington State Universities hop programs. I know the OSU Hop program has been developing varietals at least since the 1960’s. So i’m wondering. Where did these people get their plants from? Almost certainly from rhizome stock. And guaranteed from the northwest.

    Buyer beware. Ask for proof of VF lineage.

    In conclusion, don’t be fooled by individuals selling hops as “clean and virus free.” And certainly anything that is “certified” will have paperwork. Don’t be afraid to ask.

    Stephen Hollingsworth

    Categories : grow hops


    1. Erik,
      Generally, same varieties are planted 3 feet or more apart – differing varieties should be at least 5 feet apart. Anyone who has dealt with intermingling can tell you what a pain and how time consuming separating different varieties can be (it has happened to me – major pain separating them).

      I have no experience breeding/crossbreeding hops, not even sure where to purchase a male hop plant. I suppose you could start with seed, but it would be quite some time until you could identify a male plant. Cascade is generally an aroma hop, Nugget a bittering hop, so I assume you are trying to come up with a dual purpose hop (aroma and bittering qualities)? Sorry I don’t have any answers in this respect, but perhaps someone with knowledge in this area can chime in.

    2. Erik says:

      2 sets of questions.

      (1). I am getting 6 rhiozomes each (6 cascade, 6 nugget..all female) from another location which I planted 4 years ago. I cannot remember how far apart I should plant them, could you provide some insight there? (not really considered with keeping the different varieties apart)

      (2) I am (also) considering in investing in a male. Looking for a hearty variety (but not nugget or cascade…just something that would do well in my climate area…Boston area)…for reasons tantramount to breeding…any reccomendations? (Or considerations on this item?) (ultimately looking for a cascade, nugget and ______ hybrid)

    3. Hey Shawn,
      They can be dug up for transplanting, but separating a crown could kill it. If your plants are sending out hop rhizomes (horizontally growing roots with buds on them), you can harvest these for planting. Cut the rhizome sections 4 to 6 inches long and plant these. Yes, they will all be female as long as it comes from a female plant. 5 acres is ambitious and it would probably take 20 years to propagate enough hop rhizomes from these 3 plants. I would buy rhizomes – here you can buy hop rhizomes online

      As far as planting/growing 5 acres of hops, that is a big undertaking outside of the scope of this blog. I would read up on commercially growing hops and check out some agricultural classes on the subject. One site I know of that provides training for the whole scope of growing hops commercially is Gorst Valley Hops – from planning, planting, equipment, trellising, methods, harvesting, packaging options and sales. Hope this helps.

    4. Shawn fetter says:

      I want to know if I can dig up my hops and separate the roots for transplanting? If it was a female will they all be female. And do I need to use root tone?I am just gettin started in this experience and I have three established plants here. Or should I buy all new. I intend to plant 5 acre field so any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Leave a Reply