Growing the hops that are used in craft beers is an activity that is increasingly popular in Ohio, and also being researched by The Ohio State University Extension Service, Hillsboro Rotarians learned Tuesday.
Tuesday was Rotary’s annual “Farmers Day,” and dozens of farmers and agriculture industry professionals were guests of Rotarians at the Ponderosa Banquet Center.
Brad Bergefurd, extension education agent for the extension service at the OSU South Centers near Piketon, told Rotarians that hops are considered a “specialty crop,’ and are actually part of the cannabis family – the legal part, he stressed.
Bergefurd, who was introduced by local 4-H extension agent and Rotarian Kathy Bruynis, praised the late Dan Cowdrey, a former county extension agent and Rotarian, saying Cowdrey hired him and had a “good vision” for agriculture locally and statewide.
Bergefurd discussed a hops research yard at the South Centers campus. As described by extension agency literature, “Hops are a main ingredient in beer manufacturing, providing a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt sugars and a refreshing finish.”
Bergefurd said that craft beer brewers are particular about the hops they use, and it’s important for growers to produce quality crops. He said hops give beer its unique “aroma and taste variations.”
For years, Ohio breweries have purchased hops mostly from out of state, but that could eventually change if hop growing continues in popularity in the Buckeye State, said Bergefurd. There are currently about 120 acres in Ohio devoted to growing hops, while 6,000 acres are needed to meet demand. He said more than 1 million barrels of craft beer are being brewed annually in Ohio.
Data collected from applied research trials will allow researchers to educate growers “about production, pest management practices, and phenology data. Hop growers will also learn how to develop good marketing and production plans for their hops production,” according to extension service information.
The OSU South Campus hosts “First Friday” tours of its hops research site the first Fridays of March, April, May, June and July. The tours take place from 10 a.m. until noon at a cost of $15 per family. Visitors can learn about hop yard construction, establishment costs, irrigation, variety selection, fertilization and other tools.
Registration for the tours can be made by contacting Charissa Gardner by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 740-289-2071, ext. 132.
Bergefurd also promoted an Ohio Hops and Malting Barley Conference & Trade Show at the Shisler Conference Center & Fisher Auditorium in Wooster Feb. 24-25. Full details can be found at go.osu.edu/OhioHopsAndBarleyConference.
More information can also be found at the website of the Ohio Hop Growers Guild, www.ohgg.org.
Door prizes supplied by local ag-related businesses were awarded to several farmers in attendance at the conclusion of Tuesday’s luncheon.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.