2017 Master Brewers Conference
99. Growing hops in Florida: Year one trial results

Simon Bollin, Hillsborough County Economic Development, Tampa, FL, U.S.A.

Coauthor(s): Zhanao Deng, University of Florida, Wimauma, FL, U.S.A.; Shinsuke Agehara, University of Florida, Wimauma, FL, U.S.A.; Gary Vallad, University of Florida, Wimauma, FL, U.S.A.; Hugh Smith, University of Florida, Wimauma, FL, U.S.A.; Johan Desaeger, University of Florida, Wimauma, FL, U.S.A.


Florida has emerged as a major producer of craft beer in the national arena, with nearly 200 breweries producing more than 1.25 million barrels per year and generating greater than $2 billion economic impact. Increased interest and demand for unique, locally produced craft beer utilizing local hops has stimulated strong interest in local hop production. This interest offers an excellent opportunity to Florida specialty crop growers. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) funded a project within the Specialty Crop Block Grant program for us to assess the potential of producing hops in Florida for this emerging industry. One typical high-trellis hop yard was constructed at the University of Florida's Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in the Tampa Bay area in spring 2016; rhizomes of 13 hop varieties were transplanted to the hop yard in April 2016. Hop plants began to flower in May and reached maximum plant heights in June. Cones began to mature in late June, and peak harvesting occurred in July. Hop varieties showed drastic differences in plant growth, height, lateral shoot production, and cone yield. Cascade produced the largest amount of fresh cones (0.75 to 1 pound per hill), followed by CTZ and Nugget, which yielded 0.25 to 0.50 pounds of fresh cones per hill. Both plant spacing and nitrogen fertilization rate affected hop plant growth and cone yield significantly. We encountered major challenges including the occurrence of Apple mosaic virus, Hop latent virus, Cercospora leaf spots, root-knot nematodes, and spider mites. Compared to hop plants grown in the Pacific Northwest or North Carolina, the hop plants grown in Florida were shorter and had fewer branches and much lower cone yields, probably due to the short photoperiod and induced flowering at the premature stage. We expect that these hop plants will reach maximum production capacity in 4 to 5 years. Artificial lighting will be installed in the hop yard to extend the photoperiod and to improve plant growth and increase cone yields.

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