Hops (Humulus lupulus L.) play a crucial role in the beer making process. Within the female flowers, known as “cones,” there are lupulin glands containing alpha acids, beta acids, and essential oils, which provide bittering and unique aroma flavors to beer. Recent increasing demand in specialty beers and locally sourced ingredients, compounded with the decline in worldwide hop production and commodity crop prices, has resulted in an increased interest in local hop production.
Craft beer sales continue to be on the rise across the United States, and Nebraska is making a name for itself in the industry. In 2015 alone, Nebraska produced 39,505 barrels and had an economic impact of $424 million dollars (ranks 32nd). Hop production acreage across the world has dropped from 180,000 in 1992 to 130,000 acres in 2016, increasing the demand for hops in the United States, principally aroma (alpha-acid) types, driven by craft brewer consumer demands.
At present, 39 percent of the alpha-type hops are grown in the United States with the majority (98 percent) presently grown in Washington, Oregon and Idaho, having a combined harvest acreage of 50,857 acres in 2016. In the past 5 years, United States hop production has increased 72 percent, and 80 percent of the varieties are aroma/duel purpose hop varieties. In 2016, Nebraska had 24 acres of hops under production, with the anticipation that number increasing to approximately 40 acres in 2017. Hops can be grown in much of the United States, but need to be evaluated for varietal performance, productivity and quality.
Spring happenings with Nebraska HopsApril 18, 2017
Katie Kreuser joined the University of Nebraska–Lincoln hops team in April. She is located at the Cass County Extension office in Weeping Water, Nebraska. Prior to this position, she was a research technician in Nebraska’s Agronomy & Horticulture Department, focusing on buffalograss and hop breeding projects.
Her roles include developing and delivering training to Nebraska hop growers and brewers, sharing timely information via publications and social media, and managing the annual Nebraska Grower and Brewer Conference & Trade Show. She will also be working with colleagues throughout the Midwestern United States to develop new cultivars and production practices suited to our growing conditions and markets.
Three days in, Katie traveled to Cleveland, Ohio to participate in the Great Lakes Hop Working Group’s 3rd annual meeting earlier this month. Hop researchers, extension specialists, and collaborators from several states east of the Rocky Mountains shared updates on hop production and current research efforts in their states. The meeting concluded with several project collaborations planned for 2017 and 2018.
NEBRASKA HOPS NEWS
Hops Field Day & Scouting Workshop set for July 22
Speakers from the University Nebraska–Lincoln and Nebraska Extension, as well as local growers and brewers will be presenting. Topics include hop yard design, irrigation, major pests and disease and weed management, as well as hearing a brewers perspective. Hands-on in-field scouting, harvesting equipment display and an update on hop efforts across Nebraska will also be provided. Detailed agenda will be available soon at Midwest Hop Producers/Nebraska Hop Yards,18003 Club View Drive, Plattsmouth NE 68048 or on-line at http://midwesthopproducers.com/workshop/.