So you want to grow hops? If you grow it will they come?

August 17 workshop focuses on growing hops.

The local foods movement, supply costs and growth of the craft beer industry in the Great Lakes Region have people looking at producing hops in Michigan. Some hops are being grown commercially and in research trials, primarily in the northwest part of the state, and processing options remain limited. Marketing options will be explored as part of a Hops Workshop at the Michigan State University Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC).

  • Hops Workshop
  • August 17, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • SWMREC, 1791 Hillandale Rd, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Berrien County is the site of one of two Michigan State University (MSU) hop demonstration projects conducted by Ron Goldy, and Diane Brown-Rytlewski and Steve Marquie—all MSU Extension educators—(SWMREC) farm manager, Dave Francis, among others. In northwest Michigan, MSU Extension educator Robert Sirrine is conducting a similar demonstration project. In addition to curiosity seekers inquiring about what grows on the unusually tall poles, there are quite a few potential growers taking a serious look at commercial hop production.

Breweries are the largest users of hops, and breweries don’t use fresh hops straight from the field. Brewers predominately utilize a pelletized product. All hops including leaf hops (hops that aren’t pelletized) must be harvested and handled carefully to maintain quality. The crop must be dried, then conditioned in a moisture and temperature controlled environment. Most hops are pelletized and vacuum packaged with nitrogen for the end user.

Currently, the availability of hops processors serving the emerging Michigan markets is limited. So what are the opportunities for developing processing capacity? As with many other value-added commodities, a variety of options for local business development may exist. These and other topics will be explored at the upcoming Hop Workshop organized by Diane Brown-Rytlewski . For more information, download the Hops Workshop flier or call 269-944-4126. 

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