It’s been a while since our last newsletter but rest assured we have been hard at work. Despite the impact of the global COVID pandemic, our core activities have proceeded largely as planned, and over the past 6 months we’ve continued to make great progress. We’ve also been reviewing our programme priorities in the face of ongoing travel restrictions and COVID related risks, and are looking to accelerate some parts of the programme and increase staff resources to ensure that Hāpi continues to progress its projects and achieve its goals in providing great benefits for the hops and craft beer industries in New Zealand.
The Latest News from our Hop Breeding Programme
Our hop breeding programme has been moving forward nicely and it is fantastic to see our promising new crosses already in advanced or large scale trials. New seedlings from the Select Breeding crosses were successfully planted in spring of 2019, with this year’s crosses to be planted in spring of 2020. We are pretty excited that two selections from the high-throughput sensory screening met flavour/aroma objectives and have been advanced to a large scale trial in one case, and a full commercial scale trial in the other case. The commercial-scale trail uses novel integration of tissue culture propagation into the breeding programme to accelerate the normal breeding timeline. The commercial-scale trial plants are in the nursery now and will be planted in the field in late spring 2020. This represents a substantial speed increase on a traditional crossing programme.
As an additional project, Lincoln University is undertaking research for us into novel laboratory growing regimes, alternative germplasm sources and regional growing conditions. The intention of this work is to seek “game changing” improvements to hop breeding and provide a guide for the prioritisation of regional hop growing potential based on growing conditions.
We are also involved in three growing trials outside of the Tasman district which will provide important data for the expansion of the New Zealand hop industry.
Precision Farming and Hop Processing
We are continuing our work to improve hop growing and processing with a view to driving improved product quality and crop value. We’ve conducted research into alternative stringing methods, alternative canopy construction methods, plant growth regulators, in-field crop maturity measurement technologies and process improvements for the drying, pelletising and storage of hops. Commercial -scale trial measurements will continue for these efforts with the 2020/2021 growing season. Preliminary data indicates that the string trial is generating yield improvements with significant environmental benefits. However, the plant growth regulator trials are not yielding benefits to date.
The 2020 Hāpi Symposium
The 2020 Hāpi Symposium was shaping up to be a fantastic event, but unfortunately had to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It is highly unlikely that the 2021 in-person event will be possible in its previous format due to international travel restrictions. Although the event may look different for 2021, we are hopeful that we can achieve a similar sense of cross-industry coming together and collaboration. Our expectation is that the 2021 Hāpi events will take a different format and may involve multiple smaller events or initiatives that deliver content online. We will keep you posted!
That’s all for now. Don’t forget to visit our website at Hapi.co.nz for access to all our educational materials and more. For the latest updates be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook.