Press release from Ali Hamm and Glen Fuller in Colorado.
With increasing interest in growing hops locally from both farmer and brewer’s perspective, Organic hops has taken a foothold as a nascent new industry in Colorado. Years of state wide interest and research by Colorado State University culminated last weekend in the first “Sustainable Hops Growing Workshop” held in Hotchkiss, Colorado. Put on by Dr. Ed Page of CSU Extension and Ron Godin of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Rogers Mesa, the workshop saw over 70 attendees, about a third of which were Colorado brewers eager to see the interest from farmers in growing hops in Colorado. The rest were hobbyist and potential hop farmers traveling from as far away as California and Nebraska, to learn more about farming hops on a larger scale.
Colorado will be harvesting approximately 7 acres of organic hops this month. The first commercial 5-acre hop yard in Colorado was established in Paonia by Glen Fuller this year. Fuller already holds organic certification, and will contract to local breweries wishing to purchase sustainably grown organic hops. Currently, Fuller and associates plan on expanding acreage next year to 150 acres. Plans are underway to address the processing portion of the industry and the postharvest equipment. Fuller and associates are planning to purchase a drying kiln, hop picker and pelletizer to be used at a centralized hop processing facility in western Colorado. With quickly accelerating momentum, Colorado may soon enter the marketplace as a U.S. supplier of organic hops. Currently, organic hops are grown in New Zealand and China with several acres grown in the Pacific Northwest.
Colorado State University has been researching hop varieties for 6 years. Lead by Dr. Ron Godin, Researcher at the Rogers Mesa Experiment Station, and Ali Hamm, Masters Student at the Fort Collins campus, CSU has shown that hops grow quite well under organic conditions in the western Colorado climate. Colorado’s high and dry climate aids in reducing pest and disease pressure on the hops, and our plentiful sunshine and cool nights lends excellent growth and quality.
Dr. Ron Godin and Ali Hamm of CSU wish to expand their hop research into a long-term program, to fill the void in organic hop production research. Partnering with local growers such as Fuller, research projects are planned in sustainable farming practices such as water efficiency, cover cropping for nutrient management, and local marketing. Thus far, local craft breweries New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing Companies have provided research funding.
With interest in hops production continuing to grow in Colorado, planning is underway for next year’s 1st Annual “Sustainable Hops Growing Workshop”!
For details, contact: