The success of the craft beer industry and interest in using locally grown ingredients has encouraged an adventuresome group of farmers in the South Atlantic region to try their hands at growing hops, but the climate here is challenging. An upcoming conference will bring experts from across the country to advise the young industry.
Organized by North Carolina State University, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative, the South Atlantic Hops Conference is scheduled for March 4-5 at the Clarion Hotel Richmond Central in Richmond, Va..
“Most hops in the United States are produced in the Pacific Northwest, where the climate is well-suited to the needs of hops plants. Growing hops under the not-so-ideal conditions in the South Atlantic is challenging,” said Jeanine Davis, an Extension horticultural science specialist and professor at N.C. State. “The conference will kick off on Friday with commercial hop yard and brewery tours. Saturday will be a full-day conference with concurrent sessions on all aspects of growing and selling hops.”
Speakers include Ann George, executive director of the U.S. Hop Growers Association; James Altwies of Gorst Valley Hops; Dan Gridley of Farm Boy Hops; Ken Hurley, beer chemist at Virginia Tech; and Lina Quesada-Ocampo, plant pathologist at NC State University.
“There will also be panel discussions on what brewers want from local growers and buying starter hop plants,” Davis added. “Individual presentations will include growing hops in non-traditional areas, how to build a small hop yard, growing and marketing hops on a diversified farm, harvesting hops, processing hops, downy mildew control, beer chemistry, the status of the industry, new opportunities for hop growers, and updates from North Carolina and Virginia universities on their hops research.”
The conference should provide brewers and growers at all stages of production a great opportunity to network, Davis said. There will be a trade show, and lunch will be served.
For those who register by Feb. 3, the early-bird price is $80.12. Detailed information is available on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2016-south-atlantic-hops-conference-tickets-19730934757.