Virginia Cooperative Extension



Recently we received an email from Laura Siegle of the Amelia County Extension Office. Laura was interested in hops production and wanted to see what hops growing was all about. Well, we invited Laura to our farm for a visit to discuss hops locally as well as across the State. We called our friends at Huguenot Hops to join in as well for the discussion. Laura brought in Rachel Grosse of the Powhatan County Office as well. The four of us had a wonderful discussion about the future of hops in VA. We learned a great deal from Laura and Rachel.

They informed us that they are here for us to lean on. If we have a pest issue, call them. If we have spots on the leaves, call them. If something is causing bines to die, call them. They are here to help. They are eager to learn about hops as much as we are.

They want to work with us to test out different aspects of hops. Low trellis vs high trellis. Chinook vs Columbus vs Centennial. When to control downy mildews and what to use that is labeled safe for hops. They want to help us to establish a good solid weed control with ground covers. They talked with us about using compost tea. They were not kidding when they said they were here to help. The list goes on. They even wanted to get in on a harvest or two next summer! Love some volunteers like that. We would love to be able to mimic some of the research that NC State has been able to do. If you have not, please check out Jeanine Davis and some of her work at NC State regarding hop production at the North Carolina Hops Project. Their project is full of useful information.

We talked about joining the Old Dominion Hops Cooperative and how important that was for us to establish relationships with other farmers and still be able to market our own product. Old Dominion is set up so that members market their own product vs every member pooling their hops into a few buyers. Laura and Rachel wanted to learn more about the growth cycle of hops, so we discussed that as well. We talked about the different varieties and what has done well and what hasnt. We spoke briefly about the challenges of hand harvesting and the importance of small scale harvesters that are being developed.

The one thing that we really discussed with Laura and Rachel was the importance of having a test facility set up in VA for hops. We need a place to have the Alpha Acids analyzed. For now we ship out of state for alpha acid testing. Having an in state lab for hop analysis is important as this crop begins to grow in VA. They are going to work with us on that. VA State and VA Tech are two good candidates for such a lab. Very exciting news for the VA hop industry.

We will continue to work with Laura and Rachel as well as other extension agents who reach out for help. Over the last several weeks, we have had 2 extension agents and 2 potential farmers contact us for advice and assistance. We love the growth we are seeing. Farms from Goochland to Virginia Beach are getting into the mix.

Farmers teaching Extension Agents and Extension Agents teaching farmers. It was a wonderful day for hops in VA. Baby steps in the right direction for sure. There are big things happening in Virginia right now regarding hops. Only time will tell. For now, we love what we see.

 

Extension Agents Contact Info:

Laura Siegle

Amelia Office 804-561-3224

 

Rachel Grosse

Powhatan Office

804-598-5607

 

For a list of local offices, please click on the link below.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Offices

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