Book Review

Compendium of Hop Diseases and Pests

Edited by Walter Mahaffee, Sarah Pethybridge, & David H. Gent
2009; APS Press, St. Paul, MN; $65
112 pages; 147 color images; 6 b&w images; ISBN 978-0-89054-376-4

The Compendium of Hop Diseases and Pests was just published and shipped in May, so it’s still hot off the presses. I was especially intrigued when this book arrived because, while I’m not employed in the area of plant disease diagnosis, I am an avid (make that very avid) home brewer and even go so far as to cultivate several varieties of hops at my home. This compendium is a practical reference for anyone interested in hops cultivation, of course, which in addition to brewing, is showing promise for use in sugar processing and as a preservative in ethanol production and for its potential use as an antimicrobial additive in animal feed. Discussion of hops as a natural source of a number of naturally produced medicinally-important compounds also has begun showing up in the literature. Curiously, I am more and more frequently seeing hops cultivated simply as an ornamental climbing vine (and technically not a “vine” but a “bine”) by homeowners; it’s usually a very hardy, attractive plant and has phenomenal growth rates up to about one foot per day.

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More than 140 color images are presented with expert scientifically peer-reviewed descriptions of the identifying characteristics of disease and pest symptoms and their causal agents. Not surprisingly, fungi comprise the largest group of pathogens to this plant. This book also provides an overview of the taxonomy and botanical traits of the genus Humulus. I was pleasantly surprised to see additional sections delving into cone uses and chemistry, methods for hop production, and an extensive list of hop cultivars and their characteristics. Probably most interesting to me, from a historical perspective, is a table of all the known cultivars of hops, their pedigree, whether an aroma or bittering hop, and resistance to numerous diseases. The description of each disease or pest throughout the book includes a general account of its importance and worldwide distribution, symptoms, causal organism or agent, disease cycle and epidemiology, management, and selected references. The references document the descriptions and provide resources for additional information. I think that even amateur mycologists would find the text fairly easy to understand; the color images are high resolution and very helpful and informative; an added bonus is the extensive glossary at the end.

The Compendium of Hop Diseases and Pests will be most useful to plant pathologists and those involved in commercial production of this specialty crop, but may be enjoyed by the great many hobbyists including home brewers, who are quickly getting into cultivating this interesting and useful plant.

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi

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