Interested in hops? Cornell hosting hops conference June 21

PORTLAND – The re-emerging 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 and 600 acres. There have been a number of production resources developed for growers of these large commercial farms that do not translate well to Northeastern U.S. 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 does the root system of a hops plant appear 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 yourselves? 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 June 21 at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland. 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 in 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 also provide a talk on 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 where participants will have the opportunity to break into small groups to get more detailed instruction from the slate of speakers on hop yard construction, irrigation and nutrition, pest management, an upclose look at a hop plant from the roots to the growing tip, as well as, the opportunity to examine a small scale hops harvester. For more information on the Hops Conference, contact Kate Robinson at 792-2800 ext. 201 or by email at kjr45@cornell.edu