MARYSVILLE, Ohio – Hops production has the potential to be a huge opportunity to boost farm profits, says an educator with Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
But before growers decide to jump into production mode, they should make sure they know everything there is to know about growing hops, including how much money is needed to get started and how much time and effort goes into growing these popular crops, said Amanda Douridas, an Ohio State University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college.
The demand for hops, a main ingredient in beer manufacturing, is strong and growing from Ohio’s booming microbrewery industry. They provide bitterness to balance the sweetness of malt sugars.
Ohio beer manufacturers spend an estimated $4 million annually on purchases of hop cones, or hops, to create craft beers. This has created a huge opportunity for local growers to get into hops production. In fact, the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture revealed that the number of farms growing hops nationwide jumped to 166 in 2012, up from 68 in 2007.
Interested parties can learn more about getting into hops production at a July 29 field day by CFAES experts.
“The field day is a great way for new hops growers to learn what they need to know to start growing,” Douridas said. “Hops production has gained a lot of interest in recent years because breweries are looking for locally grown hops.
“Because growers can grow hops on a couple of acres, it’s a great opportunity for small landowners or farmers who want to diversify. It’s a big investment in terms of money and time, but it’s also a growing market and can be a great opportunity if people are prepared for it.”
For example, the average price for all hops was $3.59 per pound in 2013, a significant increase from the $1.88 the crop fetched in 2004, according to the Hops Growers of America. The Washington-based trade organization tracked the nation’s hops production for 10 years in a recent report.
“It’s important that growers have a good understanding of the labor issues and all costs involved with hops production before they start the investment process,” Douridas said. “You’ve got to understand the whole operation in order to make the best decisions about whether hops production is something you want to do.”
The workshop is from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Buckeye Room at the Union County Agricultural Center, 18000 state Route 4, in Marysville, Ohio.
Topics to be discussed during the morning session include:
- Starting your own hops production.
- Startup expenses.
- Variety selection.
- Pest control.
- Packaging and processing procedures.
The second half of the day will be spent in the field, Douridas said.
Registration for the program is $25. Payments can be sent to Douridas at 18000 state Route 4, Suite E, Marysville, Ohio 43040.