Oregon State University & The Worthy Hop Yard
Our partnership with Oregon State University began in 2012 with the initial conception of the brewery and gardens. University staff from the Hop Breeding & Genetics program helped design and choose materials for the hop yard, and were on site to help with the initial planting.
We both had questions we hoped the garden could shed light on within a few years' time. If hops could grow in Central Oregon, what effect would the dry, dusty climate have on pests and diseases? Would the short growing season reduce harvest yields? And would certain varieties perform better than their counterparts in the Willamette Valley? Worthy & Co. set out to answer these questions through consistent observation. Dr. Shaun Townsend, his team of graduate students, and our own horticulturist have been monitoring Worthy's hops since day one, recording data on vigor, disease resistance, and yield. And each year, Dr. Townsend compares that data to what he sees in his own yard over in Corvallis.
So fast forward a few years and what did we find? Ask us or any one of the hop farms popping up in the area - hops grow quite well in Central Oregon. While late spring frosts can kick back some spring growth, this seems to have no effect on final harvest tallies. And being on the dry side, we can avoid the scourge of downy mildew from which the valley suffers each year. It's not all good news, though. Our hot, dry summers leave us more susceptible to spider mite outbreaks, and extreme wind storms wreak havoc on our plants and the actual structure of the trellis system. We have to constantly be on guard for fallen plants and poles. But other than that, our hops enjoy plenty of sunshine (300+ days!) and respond very well to the climate, even surviving consistent sub zero temperatures in the winter.
Thanks to the continued efforts of WGC's horticulturist and OSU staff, we know growing hops in Central Oregon is possible, and we continue to experiment with new varieties and growing methods every year.