Vegetable Workshop Series Offers Insight into Alternative Crops, Soil Health

Malting barley crops. Photo: Thinkstock.

FREMONT, Ohio — Growing hops and barley crops is an increasingly popular way to generate additional income from the farm. But before growers decide to devote some acreage to these new crops, they need to understand the costs and labor involved in growing them.

Allen Gahler, an Ohio State University Extension educator in Sandusky County, said that while there is a strong and growing market for hops and barley in Ohio, growers should put pencil to paper before making the decision.

Hops, for example, require a huge initial investment, Gahler said.

“It would have to be the right fit for growers, considering that hops can be a $20,000 per acre investment just to get started,” he said. “Hops and barley crops are having a resurgence in Ohio because the growing craft brewers and microbrewing industry across the state has created a large market for them.

“But growers also have to consider the amount of labor that goes into producing these crops and how these crops impact the timing of their other crops. When does harvest need to occur in comparison to their other harvest needs?”

Industry professionals can learn more about barley and hops on June 9 at the next installment of the 2016 Vegetable Workshop Series. The series is led by experts from the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University.

Educators and researchers from OSU Extension and Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center provide industry updates, tips and information to help producers increase profit potential during the growing season, Gahler said. OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

The workshops, which began in April, begin with breakfast at 7 a.m. on the second Thursdays of the month through October at OARDC’s North Central Agricultural Research Station, 1165 County Road 43 in Fremont. The workshops are free. No reservations are necessary.

Topics for the remaining workshops are:

  • June 9: Alternative Crops Enterprises – Barley and Hops – Are They an Option for You?
  • July 14: The OSU Food Safety Program – What Can It Do for You?
  • Aug. 11: Sweet Corn Evaluation, Field Walk and Taste It for Yourself
  • Sept. 8: Pepper Evaluation and Field Walk – Bells, Bananas, Jalapenos
  • Oct. 13: Soil Health and Water Quality – How Does It Affect Me? A Look at Edge of Field Studies and NCARS Water Samples.

Participants can also bring plant disease and insect samples to the workshops for identification at the lab in Wooster for further analysis. 

“They can expect quick turnaround on results and there is currently no charge for this service,” Gahler said.

For more information, contact Gahler at or 419-334-6340 or Matthew Hofelich, who manages the research station, at or 419-332-5142. 

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Allen Gahler