The reemerging and geographically diverse hops industry in the Northeastern United States is being driven by a popularity of microbrews, home brewing, and the buy local food movement. The production of hops in the Northeastern United States is currently, and will continue to be, typically a small operation (0.5 – 10 acres). However, with an estimated gross income between $10,000 and $30,000 an acre and the lure of getting back to the land have people from all walks of life looking at hops production.
Today the production of hops in the United States is centered in Washington State where the average size of a hopyard in the Yakima Valley is between 500 – 600 acres. The production resources developed for growers of these large commercial farms that do not translate well to Northeastern US hop yards due to the vast differences in size, geographical spread, and climate. In addition, hopyards in the reemerging Northeastern hops industry tend to focus on hop varieties that provide distinct aroma to a beer rather than trying to compete with the Pacific Northwest’s ability to mass-produce bittering hop varieties.
Ever wonder what a hop plant looks like or how the root system of a hops plant looks up close and personal? Have you wished you had the opportunity to talk with current hops growers to learn from their mistakes before you make them yourself? In response to the need for better regional information on hops production, the NYS IPM Program and the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program are hosting a conference on Saturday June 21, 2014 at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, NY.
The morning session will start in the Brocton Central School’s auditorium for talks ranging from Lake Erie region growers Jack Voelker and Mike Moorhead providing their experiences planting a hop yard, to specialists from Cornell and Penn State giving details on processing and selling the hop harvest. Dan Minner, head brewer at Ellicottville Brewing Company will speak about hop production and utilization from a brewer’s perspective.
After a catered lunch, the meeting will travel a mile down the road to the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory hopyard. Here, participants will have the opportunity to break into small groups to get more detailed instructions on hop yard construction; irrigation and nutrition; pest management; an up- close look at a hop plant from the roots to the growing tip; and the opportunity to examine a small-scale hops harvester. For more information on the Hops Conference please contact Kate Robinson at (716) 792-2800 ext 201 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Conference agenda can be found on the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program website.