PIKETON, Ohio —As the craft brew market continues to grow in Ohio, this could be prime time to tour a field of hops and learn what it takes to start one.
The June 15 Hops Field Day at the Ohio State University South Centers will offer attendees guidelines on hops production, including how to market the crop to breweries, control pests, irrigate and fertilize the soil.
Ohio has over 300 craft breweries open or awaiting permit approval, and most of the current ones buy their hops from growers outside Ohio, so there’s potential for Ohio growers to supply those breweries, said Brad Bergefurd, a horticulturist with OSU South Centers in Piketon.
“Beer is made out of water, hops and barley. We have them all here in Ohio,” said Bergefurd, who directs Ohio State University Extension’s research into hops production and is hosting the field day. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. OSU South Centers is also a part of the college.
Hops grow on vines and their flowers/seed cones are used to make beer, adding bitterness, aroma and antibacterial qualities.
Getting into hops production can be costly, but the potential for profit is high, Bergefurd said. Planting one acre of hops costs a farmer about $20,000 compared to an acre of corn or soybeans, which are well under $1,000 an acre, he said.
“It doesn’t take a lot of acres to make a decent living growing hops, and the income potential is great if you do everything right,” he said.
The field day is intended to help attendees do exactly that.
“There’s great opportunities for land owners and farmers to adopt some of the hops production technologies that we’re researching,” Bergefurd said.
Producing hops requires a lot of labor. Though they are perennials and don’t have to be replanted, they have to be trained on a trellis, constantly pruned and hand harvested in a timely fashion.
The Hops Field Day will include a chance to see a galvanized trellis system and a hops harvester machine and to learn the basics of selecting hop plants, pest management, determining production costs and constructing a hop yard.
The field day is $25 per person, $40 for a family of up to three. The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the OSU South Centers, 1864 Shyville Road, in Piketon.
Pre-registration is required. To register, contact Charissa Gardner at email@example.com or 740-289-2071, extension 132. The deadline to register is June 13.