Hops Workshop Offered to Promote Sustainable Production

Six sessions will walk growers through a full season of hops growth


AMES, Iowa – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will host a series of sustainable hop production workshops during 2017 aimed at helping those interested in growing the plant learn more about its production.

hops plantThe series will consist of six sessions, culminating in a bus tour to Traverse City, Michigan in August 2018 where multiple working hops yards will be visited. The first session will be held on April 22 and sessions will be held monthly until August, both in-person and via videoconference.

The workshops will be taught by Diana Cochran, assistant professor and extension fruit specialist, and Erin Hodgson, associate professor and extension entomologist, with Iowa State University.

“We want to create a standard of growing practices that serve as a benchmark for hop production in Iowa,” Cochran said. “These workshops will provide educational material that hop growers can utilize. It will also provide information and education that is spread out over a growing season, allowing them to see hop production in action.”

Hop production is growing quickly in the Midwest, generating over $100 million in revenue in 2014. Growing hops is not easy from a biologic and economic standpoint, but it is possible in Iowa with training. The goal of the workshops is to focus on establishing a new production series that will be viable both horticulturally and financially.

“This course starts at ground zero, beginning with an introduction to hops and how to get established before moving through the different aspects of crop management,” Cochran said. “We will move through an entire growing season with them, working hand-in-hand to provide information needed to produce a healthy product.”

The first session of the series will be held April 22 from 1–3 p.m. at the ISU Horticulture Research Station in Ames. It will provide an introduction to the course, as well as to hop production basics and growing resources.

Sessions two and three will be held via Zoom videoconferencing on May 13 and June 17, respectively. They will cover sustainable hop production practices, plant and irrigation establishment, developing a crop management plant, training and pruning.

Session four is available both through Zoom or in-person at the ISU Horticulture Research Station on July 22. It will discuss developing a pest management plan for insects and diseases, scouting and trapping methods and considerations for pesticide applications.

The final session will take place Aug. 7, again available either in-person or via Zoom. It will cover hop harvest, drying and processing and compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act.

“Growers who participate in these classes will end with the tools necessary to have sustainable crop production in Iowa,” Cochran said. “Many times new growers don’t know what they don’t know and this workshop will provide the information they need to be successful.”

The program will also help create a standard for producers to follow.

“We want to have a benchmark for everyone growing hops in Iowa,” Cochran said. “Most individual growers are small and if they want to meet the demand of local brewers, growers will have to work together. We want to help create consistent quality so brewers know what they are getting when they purchase hops grown in Iowa.”

Registration for the course is $500 and includes lectures, supplemental class materials and the hop yard tour in Michigan. The deadline to register for the course is April 15. Class size is limited and pre-registration is required. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come, first-paid basis.

Registration can be completed online or through the mail. Additional information about the course, as well as online registration and the mail registration for can be found at http://www.aep.iastate.edu/hops/.

The workshops are funded through an Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.