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Webinars, Tour to Help Farmers Get into Hops Business
Indiana Ag Connection - 06/16/2014

Farmers new to producing hops or considering getting started in it as the craft brewing industry continues to grow will learn about opportunities and risks through two Purdue Extension webinars and a tour of new research plots.

They will get helpful information on the production, management and costs of a hops farming venture as well as potential returns on it.

The free webinars will be on June 19 and July 10, and the tour will be on Aug. 21 at Purdue University's horticultural research farm known as Meigs at the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center south of Lafayette.

"Time is ripe for developing a hops industry in Indiana," said Lori Hoagland, assistant professor of horticulture and an organizer of the events. "The brewing industry is not only growing but there is significant interest by the brewers in offering clientele a Hoosier brew and, perhaps more interesting, a variety of products that are unique to Indiana because of the specific qualities of Indiana-grown ingredients."

A local hops industry will also ensure that brewers have a consistent supply, Hoagland said. Craft breweries use more hops than traditional American breweries, and rapid growth in the craft brew industry is expected to drive up costs and result in potential hops shortages.

"This creates an opportunity for Indiana growers," she said. "But hops are an intensive crop, and growers need to know what they're getting into before they install hop yards."

The webinars, both 4-5 p.m. EDT, will feature presentations by two Michigan State Extension educators who have experience with Midwest hops production:

-- June 19, integrated pest management for hops, Erin Lizotte, IPM educator. The webinar can be accessed at https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/hopsipm/.

-- July 10 webinar, estimated hops production costs and returns, Rob Sirrine, community food systems educator. That webinar can be accessed at https://gomeet.itap.purdue.edu/hopsgrowercosts/.

Both webinars will be recorded and made available for viewing later on a new Hops Production webpage hosted by the Purdue Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture.

Growers and brewers will tour the hops yards and malting barley variety trials during the Meigs farm event, which will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. They will learn how to construct and manage hop trellises, compare tall and dwarf trellis production systems, help researchers evaluate hop varieties, and identify further research and outreach needs. There is a $20 fee for attending the workshop, with dinner and opportunities for tasting Indiana beer included.

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