Following the destruction of many of Florida’s agricultural properties by Hurricane Michael, many of Florida’s farmers are turning to alternative crops to replace crops that were destroyed. Floridians are experimenting with a crop that once was not thought to be viable in Florida; Beer Hops.
For those familiar with the brewing industry, Hops may sound familiar. Hops are an essential ingredient in the beer making process and give the beer the distinctive bitter taste and flavor for whic. Many local breweries around the state have an interest in brewing beer using fresh and local hops. While a majority of Hops are grown in the Midwest regions of the country, Florida land can also be used to produce Hops.
While beer was originally invented in ancient Mesopotamia, what modern people consider to be beer was not created until the ninth century when the use of Hops was introduced in the beer making process. Hops are the flowers grown from the humulus lupulus plant. Hops are the key ingredient in crafting unique beer and can imbue the beverage with a great variety of flavor profiles based upon the particular strain of Hops used.
There are several challenges to the production of Hops, as they are susceptible to mildew and diseases if not properly managed. Hops are not always guaranteed to have high yields. They also require long hours of daylight.
Hops generally require 15 hours of daylight in order to reach maturity. They grow vertically very quickly and then spread out horizontally afterward. Hops grow on bines, and when harvest time comes, they are separated from the bines using a machine. After the bines have been removed and from any leaves or other debris, they are dried to reduce the moisture content from eighty percent to anywhere between eight and ten percent. Drying the Hops ensure that they do not develop mold. The Hops are then compressed, packaged, and sent out to brewers.
Variety selection is the key to success when it comes to producing Hops. There are many different varieties of Hops, and how effectively they grow in different regions depends heavily upon the variety used. In trials performed at NC State University in North Carolina where there were anywhere between 800 and 900 plants per acre, the yield was 3,000 to 5,000 wet pounds of Hops per acre. On average, each plant yields about one wet pound of Hops. CTZ and Cascade varieties have seen the most success in the trials in North Carolina.
While production of Hops in Florida is still a relatively new sensation, the Hops industry is on the rise and accounted for over 2 billion dollars of economic impact in Florida in 2015.
Bollin is the Agribusiness Development Manager for the Hillsborough County Economic Development. His primary focus areas include exploring ways to grow jobs and capital investment, and ensuring that Hillsborough County’s policies are supportive of agricultural interests.