I got some good news yesterday from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The grant titled: "Hop production to enhance economic opportunities for farms and brewers" I submitted a few months ago with Brad Bergefurd was funded!
The goal of our project is to develop a new Ohio industry for commercial hops production to capture the estimated $4 million dollars in hops and related jobs currently sourced out of state. Ohio supports an expanding brewing industry with over 70 licensed beer manufacturers and this number is increasing yearly. Historically hops were produced in Ohio; however disease and insect pressure shifted production to the Pacific Northwest by the 1920s. With better knowledge and tools to manage these threats, Ohio is poised to re-claim this high-value crop. Recently, a survey of Ohio and Northeastern states found that over two-thirds of brewers reported interest in buying regionally-produced hops. Respondents were also willing to pay up to 10% more for locally-grown hops.
Our project will evaluate both the production and marketing of hops by Ohio specialty crop growers. We have three main objectives: 1) Evaluate the production and quality of commercially viable hop cultivars under Ohio growing conditions to develop a best-practices production protocol for growers, 2) Conduct a marketing analysis and expand marketing tools and programs for fresh and processed Ohio hops to improve grower profits, and 3) Provide training on all aspects of hop production through field days, development of an extension bulletin, and a project website.
Our project will begin this fall with the construction of hop trellises at both the OSU South Centers in Piketon, OH and the Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster OH.In the spring we will plant hop rhizomes and begin research to address our objectives.
We have some great collaborators who supported our application including Valley Vineyards, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and The Ohio Brewers Guild. We look forward to working with these stakeholders and others who are interested in growing hops or brewing with Ohio hops over the next two years!