From a Citra® hop field in the Willamette Valley, Joe Catron of Yakima Chief Hops and Rob Laurie of Yakima Chief Ranches provide the first field report of the Crop Year 2022.

Joe: How’s it going everyone? Thank for joining us. We are out here in the beautiful Willamette Valley. I am with Rob Laurie, our Grower Support Manager for Yakima Ranches Just finishing up his Masters Research down at Oregon State University under the tutelage of Dr. Dave Gent, and that awesome lab down their Corvallis. Rob, thanks for joining us today, give us a little insight on what you have been doing for research lately.

Rob: Yeah, so in the Gent lab I have been looking into powdery mildew of hops. Specifically, we are looking to quantify risk factors for incidences in hops yards in the Willamette Valley.   So, we are looking into things like yardage, cultivars, susceptibility, running type, pruning method, and so on, and trying to paint a really good area-wide picture of how outbreaks initiate in the Oregon growing region.

Joe: That’s awesome, it’s really cool for Rob…he was an intern for us at Yakima Chief Ranches just a couple summers ago. And then decided to take the leap, full time colleague, and then started his Master’s research down here in Corvallis with Dr. Gent. Now he’s our full time, guy on the ground, boots on the ground, down here in the Oregon growing region. Rob, give us a little insight about the growing season so far. It’s been an interesting season. What are your insights so far on the growing season?

Rob: Yeah, so super interesting this year. We obviously came through a couple tough years not only here in Oregon but throughout the Pacific Northwest. 2020 we saw smoke everywhere, last year was heat waves so this year, we are breaking new records but it’s rainfall, spring rainfall. So down here, and I guess that’s not a terrible problem to have, but down here what that’s meant is it’s really slowed a lot of farmers up when it comes to spring practices. So, pruning and training and that sort of thing. But now you can see we are finally getting some beautiful weather. And the hops seem to be catching up pretty nicely. Mosaic® seems to be lagging a little bit this year. But with a good week of sort of mid 80’s to high 70’s [degrees Fahrenheit], which we are looking at here now, we are hoping it will be leaping ahead in bounds here.

Joe: It’s been cold and wet in the Yakima Valley as well. Our friends in Idaho have been a little ahead of us as heat units go. But still certainly lagging behind, and we are really looking forward to the 80’s and 90’s [degrees Fahrenheit] in the upcoming week. At this point, we are hoping at this point, we’re hitting the solstice yesterday, but the Fourth of July I guess – for us Americans that matters you know, for the Aussies, you know it doesn’t matter as much but it is certainly a benchmark for us in the hop growing industry as well. We are looking for the heat to really keep pushing these plants up and get through that vegetative state before they start to flower. What are you seeing as far as flowering goes out there -variety specific?

Rob: Yeah, so I think it has actually been quite a kind year on Citra® and Simcoe® specifically. We are starting to see some bloom out there now in both of those cultivars. You can see a pretty strong, vigorous Citra® yard behind us there. They are really starting to come in, come I now. So, we are out there with our interns getting the rogueing done, looking for males, looking for off-types.  It’s prime time for that.

Joe: Absolutely, well Rob, I appreciate your time, I know you’re a busy guy. I will let you get back to it. We will start walking some rows. We will see you in Yakima when we get back! Cheers y’all!