We can thank the federal government for many of our agricultural innovations. For instance, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has developed more than 20 varieties of hops since the 1950s, including Cascade. For scope, there are about 65 varieties grown in the United States today. Just recently, the ARS even announced a new aroma hop cultivator to the public called Triumph, which is a cross between USDA Nugget and USDA 21110M, noting both of those hops are crossbreeds as well.
Triumph is a diploid perennial female line developed for production on normal trellis systems. First evaluations for the experimental line began way back in 2003, making this hop a long labor of love from John Henning, the ARS hop breeder in Corvallis, Oregon, that’s behind it.
According to this lengthier ARS release, the Triumph cultivar produces medium sized compact cones that mature early — Aug. 24-Sept. 3 in Oregon and the first week of September in Washington and Idaho. But the cool thing about Triumph is its ability to grow well in other regions too. From the ARS website:
Most private breeders are focused on developing hops that are best adapted to the semi-arid areas of Washington State, which dominates U.S. hop production. But Henning focuses on developing varieties that will also grow in the expanding markets for hops outside the Pacific Northwest. Much of his work is funded by hop growers, and he values their input when selecting plants to propagate and screen in field trials. It takes about 15 years to release a new variety because of the extensive screening and field trials necessary to ensure a quality hop.
His latest accomplishment is a new hop variety he named “USDA Triumph” in honor of the brand of motorcycle he once rode. “It’s disease tolerant and high yielding, it grows well in all regions, and it’s flavorful—and I that know because it’s won many taste tests,” he says.
Aromas from the hop have been described from “hop pink Bazooka bubblegum” to “peach stone fruit.” The ARS estimated average yields of Triumph were about 2,064 Kg ha-1 in single hill plots near Corvallis. For perspective, Triumph outperformed the industry standard for aroma cultivators — which is Willamette — in both multi-hill and commercial scale plots.
Chemical analyses indicated Triumph cones primary use as an aroma hop with slightly higher than normal bittering characteristics. To get into the real nitty-gritty of alpha acids, beta acids and essential oil levels click here. Triumph’s resistance to infection of downy mildew are similar to its maternal parent, Nugget, which is classified as moderately susceptible. Field-based observations show Triumph as “resistant” to non-v6 strains of powdery mildew but “moderately susceptible” to v6 races found in the Pacific Northwest. From the website:
“Powdery mildew is very adaptable, so whatever resistance a hop variety may have, it isn’t durable. Breeding for durable resistance is a slow process because there likely isn’t one individual gene that confers durable resistance,” [David] Gent, [an ARS plant pathologist in Corvallis who works with hop growers] says.
An infestation of powdery mildew in 1997 wiped out 10,000 of the 48,000 acres of hops growing in the United States at that time. While outbreaks since then have been smaller, powdery mildew and downy mildew cost hop growers at least $10 million a year in production costs and crop losses, he says.
Hungry for more? Click here to see the official announcement from the USDA-ARS releasing the variety to the public. The Hop Growers of America recently featured Triumph as one of two public experimental selections at the recent Craft Brewers Conference in Denver.
Maybe the coolest thing, according to this excellent article from the Capital Press:
Unlike cultivars owned by private companies, Triumph can be grown and propagated without paying license fees to the developer, said John Henning, a research geneticist with USDA who developed the variety.