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sector_ico_Agrifood_trans Agrifood

Developing disease resistant and climate change resilient hop varieties to re-establish BC as a global hop production center

  • Project Leaders: Mathias Shuetz, Paul Adams
  • Institutions: Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)
  • Budget: $250000
  • Program/Competition: Genomic Innovation for Regenerative Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Program (GIRAFF)
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2022
  • Status: Active

Canada imports nearly 2,500 tons of hops for our domestic brewing industry. In the 1930s and 1940s, B.C.’s Fraser Valley was the largest hop production area in the British Commonwealth. The Fraser Valley has the optimal climate and soil conditions for hop production. The region receives over 540 mm of precipitation during the growing season and has moderate temperatures suited for hop production. These factors make it an ideal area to re-establish a robust domestic hops industry.

Currently, there are no hop varieties that are climate change resilient, which is a risk factor for B.C., especially considering local disease pressures. This project will develop genomic tools to build a selection system that will screen thousands of hops seedlings for genetic markers, determining agronomic traits such as disease and drought resistance as well as superior traits sought after by brewers. This data will inform future efforts to breed hop varieties that have the ideal mix of traits to be climate change resistant.

In partnership with the BC Hop Growers Association and their members, Kwantlen Polytechnic University established a hop variety development program in 2019. This program will use genomics technology to identify promising new hop varieties at a faster rate and greater scale than is currently possible. The goal of these new hop cultivars is to increase B.C. hop production from its current level of ~100 acres to over 1000 acres by 2030, producing enough hops to supply Canada’s domestic industry and provide new export opportunities for local hop producers.