• We have a new forum and it needs your help! Homebrewing Deals is a forum to post whatever deals and specials you find that other homebrewers might value! Includes coupon layering, Craigslist finds, eBay finds, Amazon specials, etc.

Growing hops from seed

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
Before anyone helpfully points out that hops don't grow true from seed - I know... That is exactly the point.

After searching high and low (including this board) for hop pollen/males, I decided to take a step back and sprout my own males for breeding purposes. Thanks to friends on the internet, I am working with wild hops from Wyoming, Colorado and Saskatchewan, Canada.

This week, the first plant to sprout (Wyoming) produced a set of true leaves.

Feel free to follow along: http://gabriel.nagmay.com/2013/03/hops-from-seed/

I would also appreciate any advice/resources that you might have.

Cheers,
Nagmay

IMG_9540.jpg


Picture 14.jpg
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
how do you know which male was the father?
With this first generation (the ones that are sprouting now), I have no way of knowing. Since they were collected from the wild, the assumption is that they are either:

  • Escaped from commercial growing operations (life finds a way)
  • Or, native/wild to this continent: Humulus lupulus neomexicanus

The real goal is to identify a male plant and collect pollen for the breeding further generations crossed with known varieties. For that, I plan to use pollen isolation bags for collecting and distributing the pollen. Basically, you just wrap a bag around the male flowers to collect the pollen. Then, after hand pollinating the female plant, you wrap it in a second bag to ensure that no other pollen reaches it.
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
After another week the first seedling has developed strong roots and another set of leaves. You can also clearly see the formation of the hooks on the bine:

new-hops.jpg
 

Reno_eNVy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 10, 2008
Messages
6,043
Reaction score
235
Location
Reno
Neat! Subscribed to see how this fun project progresses.
 

davek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2013
Messages
65
Reaction score
8
nagmay said:
After another week the first seedling has developed strong roots and another set of leaves. You can also clearly see the formation of the hooks on the bine:
Looking forward to how this progresses
 

Greenbudobeer

Active Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
28
Reaction score
3
I've been thinking I've would like to try my hand in making my own strain of hops( well many years down the road, being my first year and I not very in tune with correctly crossing breeds), but I was thinking it when the time comes of stressing the female plant to the point it becomes a hermaphrodite. I would try to go this route because because Oregon has pretty struck laws.
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
Greenbudobeer,

"but I was thinking it when the time comes of stressing the female plant to the point it becomes a hermaphrodite"
I went this route first as well. Through stress and the liberal use of colloidal silver I managed to get several of my plants to throw male flowers. Unfortunatly, the pollen from these hermaphrodites was not viable. After several trials, no seeds managed to form. Later, I spoke to a professional grower who confirmed that this is common. It's not impossible, just statistically improbable to breed hops using this method.

"would try to go this route because because Oregon has pretty struck laws"
Tell me more. As far as I know the laws are centered around importing hops that might be a vector for disease. Hops grown from seed guarantee disease free starts.
 

Greenbudobeer

Active Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2013
Messages
28
Reaction score
3
That's a shame to hear that the pollen produce would most likely be sterile. Dang..

I don't know much about the laws, I just assumed that they would want to keep plants from other states out because of diseases and seeds out because out the chance the wind could seed out a farms whole crop. I don't know a lot though.
 

GVH_Dan

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 1, 2009
Messages
1,130
Reaction score
275
Location
McFarland (Madison)
The pollen can travel a mile (easily) on the wind, so hopefully you are taking precautions. When it looked like some of our crop was pollinated by a wild male, we spent a lot of time searching the hills. If I had found a male growing in someone's yard...well, let's just say it would be heavily frowned upon.
 

khugs21

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2010
Messages
280
Reaction score
11
Location
long island
I had a hop plant from a seed but don't know how it happened lol probably from dumping used hops in the area. I found this little baby last summer but didn't make it.

image-3379268008.jpg
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
To my understanding neither hop pollen or seeds are legally restricted items.

That said, and as GVH_Dan mentioned, pollen can travel quite a distance (boys will be boys). Out of respect for professional and home growers, you should always take precautions and bag any male flowers before they open.
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
The first sprout is now outside and about 4 feet tall. There are 5 others at various stages of development. Hopefully, I'll get at least 1 male out of the 6

hops.jpg
 

budwhite5

Active Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2013
Messages
32
Reaction score
0
Hi all newbie to brewing, here is my new hop plant. Planting outside middle of May
Any tips welcome
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
It's a boy!?

Not 100% sure, but those sure look like male flower buds to me. Anyone else have an opinion?

IMG_0066.jpg
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2012
Messages
13
Reaction score
1
Location
Donegal
I got some free hop seeds from Meantime Brewing (London), and of 28 seeds, about 20 have germinated. A bit late of a start this year, but should man-flower next year.

My main concern is, presuming half are male, that's 14 plants, how do you decide which to use as pollinators? Survival, vigour, resistance to wilts etc? Then, once you've got your chosen female pollinated and grown on, what do you look for then?
 

B-Hoppy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2010
Messages
1,727
Reaction score
355
Location
ohio
One of the traits that the breeders look for is sidearm length. Too short=less cones on the offspring. Too long=they'll bind up the picking machinery. Generally, they'll introduce the common pests to each of the plants and observe how they react. The more tolerant they are when exposed to disease organisms and insect pests, the better. Overall heath/vigor would also be a good sign as these traits will hopefully be passed on to the offspring. It's a really long tedious process for the breeders so for us recreational gardeners it's like trying to find the needle in the haystack. Have fun!
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
I wouldn't spend too many years testing the males for any particular qualities. Since hop genetics are not stable, there is no guarantee that those qualities would be passed to the next generation.

To my understanding - professional breeding programs germinate tons of the 2nd generation, take out the males and then introduce disease to cull out the susceptible plants. Those remaining are tested for yield, growth rate, acid levels, and (of course) flavor.
 

B-Hoppy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2010
Messages
1,727
Reaction score
355
Location
ohio
Nice cones! Lupulin heavy/light? Any aroma?

I ended up with a few girls who were mildew magnets, yanked~ a boy, yanked~ and a few others who haven't showed their sex yet, plus a very healthy female. Really late start here so they'll have to be assessed a little more thoroughly next year. Hop On!!
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
"Nice cones! Lupulin heavy/light? Any aroma?"

The cones that developed had a wonderful, spicy smell.

I thought that they might be developing seeds, so I left them on the bine past the optimal brewing stage. When finally picked, I found that there weren't seeds at all - rather a thick, prominent strig is what I was feeling. Next year, I'll be sure to collect cones for testing.

IMG_1178.jpg
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
Also, a breeding update:

Even after all the conversation on this thread regarding the non-viability of using pollen from hermaphroditic hops... I decided to try again. Pollen was collected from several monoecious plants. Most of it produced no results. However, I seemed to have somehow gotten lucky.

One batch of the pollen fertilized seeds on several plants. After a long stratification, some of the seeds are indeed starting to sprout!

I started a new page on my site for updates: http://gabriel.nagmay.com/2014/02/hop-breeding/

sprout.jpg
 

PapaBearJay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2012
Messages
601
Reaction score
196
Has anyone ordered from Bouncing Bear Botanicals before? Or SeedRack?
 

brewerelated

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
154
Reaction score
61
Location
Los Angeles County
Do you have any extra seeds? Would you be willing to send some? I could pay for the postage? The hop season has started here in Southern California. My second year plants have broken ground and I am looking to do some hop breeding myself.

One batch of the pollen fertilized seeds on several plants. After a long stratification, some of the seeds are indeed starting to sprout!
 

DarkCoder

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2014
Messages
267
Reaction score
159
Location
Drummondville
Hi guys, I have my own little experiment in eastern Canada (Quebec). Here, we still have snow right now... we have at least 2 more months to wait for planting hops. There are 2 spots where wild hop have been reported near where I lived... if I find plants there, they will be added to the experiment. I am also waiting for wild hop seeds from the USDA in Oregon.

Quebec Hops Experiment

To be continued... :)
 

brewerelated

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
154
Reaction score
61
Location
Los Angeles County
I read your blog and I will be following your experiments. My goal is similar to yours except that I am looking to grow hops that are adapted to the southwest. I live in southern California where my hops have already sprouted. I will post a picture taken today on 2/23/2014.

My starting point is Centennial hops because it has very diverse lineage. The one drawback is downy mildew resistance. I plan on breeding Centennial with wild hops that are from the southwest such as Colorado or New Mexico, however I am looking for any source of wild hop materials.

When the snow clears up and you go to harvest those wild rhizomes grab a few extra and I will gladly pay you for shipping and any other expenses.

Hi guys, I have my own little experiment in eastern Canada (Quebec). Here, we still have snow right now... we have at least 2 more months to wait for planting hops. There are 2 spots where wild hop have been reported near where I lived... if I find plants there, they will be added to the experiment. I am also waiting for wild hop seeds from the USDA in Oregon.

Quebec Hops Experiment

To be continued... :)
IMG_20140223_115629.jpg
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
2014 seedling update:

Around 30 seeds sprouted. Out of that, about 20 are thriving - including crosses with Cascade, Chinook and Sterling.

photo 1.jpg
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
There is also one very special sprout in the group. This happy little mutant popped open with four cotyledon (rather than 2) and continued on to develop four true leaves at the first node. We've nicknamed her "Hydra".

From what I can gather, quadrifoliate traits can be attributed to either genetic mutations, or environmental factors during seed development. If the latter is true, she'll probably revert to a bifoliate pattern at some point - but, we can always hope.

photo 2.jpg
 

PapaBearJay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2012
Messages
601
Reaction score
196
Well, this pictures includes roughly ~315 seeds. I have already sowed 35 seed in tissue culture on different media types, another ~60-70 in soil after being slightly conditioned, and another ~150 being conditioned currently(with different methods). Until I've determined the viability of the seeds I will not release the name of the vendor I purchased them from. (As you can see from the picture, some of the seeds are already crushed, there were also several others that were damaged during the separation process, which was an ordeal in and of itself.) I will not create an influx of customers if there is not a chance for success, especially since the starting product was not a pleasant one (SWMBO commented on the cat urine smell emanating from the inflorescence). If there are viable seedlings, I would be happy to share with others, based on a first come, first serve basis for cuttings. Stay tuned!

122.jpg
 

brewerelated

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2012
Messages
154
Reaction score
61
Location
Los Angeles County
Hello Papabearjay, did the seller have any information on what region these seeds were from? Are there native North America, Neomexicana, European? Either way good luck with the seeds I'll be cheering you on. Also, count me in as being in line for cuttings if you do succeed.
 

PapaBearJay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2012
Messages
601
Reaction score
196
Hello Papabearjay, did the seller have any information on what region these seeds were from? Are there native North America, Neomexicana, European? Either way good luck with the seeds I'll be cheering you on. Also, count me in as being in line for cuttings if you do succeed.
BR, they did not. It took much longer to receive a response than I had hoped to begin with, and the answer they supplied was worthless. They claimed to have collected the seed from organically cultivated plants and not wild plants. I find this hard to believe unless there are male plants near, which is generally a unlikely scenario.

(Yes, I am aware that hermaphrodites do exist. I am aware of the genetic and physiological basis for these instances, and I am also aware that in most dioecious (separate male and female) plants that such instances lead to sterile embryos. There is possibility of it being monoecious (both male and female flowers on one plant), but I am not aware of any variety currently being grown commercially that is, so this is also unlikely. If there are viable embryos, the (seedling) plant itself may end up being sterile, or will fail to live long because of specific biochemical deficiencies which may not present themselves until after germination. This is what I get for being a plant scientist.)

There are embryos (seedlings) present within the seeds, or were at least in the ones I accidentally crushed during separation.

I should know in several weeks whether or not this was a worthwhile endeavor. I'll keep everyone updated as I go along.
 
OP
nagmay

nagmay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2011
Messages
478
Reaction score
395
Location
Portland
@brewerelated: "What variety is the father"
That's one piece of information that I am keeping to myself... for now.

@PapaBearJay: "SWMBO commented on the cat urine smell emanating from the inflorescence"
So the seeds arrived in whole cones? Interesting.

I wouldn't worry too much about the smell. I've noticed something similar when waiting to pick the cones (past their "prime") while the seeds develop. These mature hops, especially when dried slowly, smell quite different than the hops picked in their prime from the same plant.

Best of luck.
 
2
Top