hops yard

Figuring Out the Right Hops “Recipe” in Florida

Dan CooperFlorida, Hops, Specialty Crops, Varieties

hops yard
Master brewers and interested growers gathered at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center to learn more about growing hops.
Photos by Frank Giles

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Gulf Coast Research and Education Center hosted a hops field day in early June. The event included a tour of the center’s hops yard and educational presentations on growing the crop.

Much of the hops used in brewing beer is grown in Washington and Oregon. Shinsuke Agehara, UF/IFAS associate professor of plant physiology, has led the effort to learn how to grow hops in Florida. The biggest limiting factor in producing hops in Florida versus the Pacific Northwest is daylight length. Washington and Oregon have significantly longer summer days than Florida.


Agehara and his fellow researchers have deployed LED lighting in the hops yard to mimic extended daylight. He said this along with other production practices has allowed the team to develop the right “recipe” for growing hops in the Sunshine State. In fact, they have been able to produce yields that rival those from the Pacific Northwest. This year’s spring crop, which will be harvested in June, looks to be the highest-yielding crop to date. And unlike other hops producing areas, two crops can be grown in the spring and in the fall in Florida.

hops yard
The Cascade variety has produced yields that rival those produced in the Pacific Northwest.

Hops, like many alternative crops, face the challenge of what comes first — supply or demand. Growers need a market of breweries to supply, while breweries need a consistent supply of hops to grow a loyal customer base of consumers. Neither of those things exist yet.

A panel of microbrewery brew masters indicated a willingness to use locally grown hops because it is a good marketing tool. And the local hops have a distinct flavor and aroma. The Cascade variety provides a hint of melon flavor, which is different from the same variety when grown in the Pacific Northwest.

The brewers also said that growers would have to invest in a machine that converts hop cones into pellets. The pellets are more shelf stable and consistent in the brewing process. But the machine also would represent a considerable investment for growers. Agehara and his team are eager to work with growers interested in growing hops in Florida. Visit the UF/IFAS hops page for more information.

By Frank Giles