A University of Missouri research plot grows hops – an ingredient found in beer. There’s growing interest by craft brewers in hops. Jim Quinn with MU Extension thinks there’s a market for it.

University of Missouri researchers study popular beer ingredient

Hop plants are climbing vines without tendrils. The plant part used in brewing beer is the hop flower, a delicate, pale green, papery cone. When used early in the brewing process, they give a beer bitterness. When combined at the end, they give off a fragrance. Hops are a preservative that extend the life of beer.

“I don’t think we’re going to be seeing acres and acres of hop fields, you know – replacing corn or soybeans, but there IS some acreage going in,” says Quinn.

He knows of a 20 acre plot in Nebraska and a large plot near Hermann, in east-central Missouri.

Missouri is on the southern edge of the area of where hops would typically grow. He says they do like lower humidity. Michigan is a leader in hops production in the Midwest. The bulk of the crop is grown in the Pacific Northwest states.

Hop plants are perennials with at least a 20-year life span. Quinn got his first round of plants from Michigan that he planted on a quarter acre at the MU Bradford Research Farm near Columbia and is now planting 10 more from Iowa State University. Quinn says he’s paying attention to the research in other states as well.

“Ohio, here in Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa State all have projects that were funded by the USDA specialty crop block grant. That’s who’s funding our project here and that’s through the Missouri Department of Agriculture,” says Quinn. “And then we also have a couple of other states that are more southern that might match a little bit our climate that we can grow parallels to and that’s West Virginia and North Carolina.”

Quinn says he’s learned that Japanese beetles love some versions of hops during a specific flowering phase.

“Pests and disease are something that we want to have a planting here to help folks learn about it. That was my first surprise. I had no idea that Japanese beetles loved hops so much,” says Quinn.

The versions of hops that have stood out to him this first season include Chinook, Galena and Nuget.

The third and final MU field day this year in the Hop Yard will be September 13th at the Bradford Research Farm: 2:00 pm field tour, 3 – 5 pm indoor presentations, followed by “Hoppy Hour” tasting of craft beers.

By Julie Harker of Brownfield Ag News