Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hops in Nebraska?

I plan to report  on an article in the Nebraska Farmer at the Magazine Club tonight on a fellow in Nebraska growing hops for craft beer. It has been said that hops are to beer that grapes are to wine. There are some 40,000 acres in commercial hops production in the US and much of it in the Yakima Valley of Washington. A northern latitude is desired for the length of summer sunlight. The popularity of craft beer made with locally produced products is what has prompted a farmer in Hartington, NE to venture into production. 
He is working with Blue Blood Brewing Co. of Lincoln to not only produce hops but is already producing a strain of Barley for brewing. Barley was grown in this area when I was a kid and used primarily for hog feed. It is an annual and grown similarly to Oats. Hops are a perennial and grow as vines. They produce a small "acorn sized fruit" that resembles an Avocado. The Nebraska farmer and his son have built a trellis system with poles from old cedar trees; guy wires at the top for stability and twine draping down for the climbing vines. The first year the plants will get about half way up and to the top by the second year.

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