Hops on Display: See a Unique Crop at Florida Ag Expo

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UF/IFAS photo/The hops yard at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center recently expanded to 2.2 acres.

By Clint Thompson

Hops research, seven years in the making at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC) in Wimauma, Florida, will be on display at Florida Ag Expo on Nov. 18.

Jack Rechcigl, GCREC center director, said one of the highlights of the Expo will be the hops field tour and beer tasting afterward.

UF/IFAS provides locally grown hops to different breweries around the state. Rechcigl said all have been thrilled with the quality and uniqueness of the flavor. It even has a citrusy taste.

“What we’re excited about is that a number of local breweries are donating beer that they’ve made from our hops. So participants at the Expo will have an opportunity to actually taste our beer,” Rechcigl said. “Most people find that they’re really impressed with it. At least that’s what I’ve heard from everyone.”

UF/IFAS Research

Shinsuke Agehara, UF/IFAS assistant professor of horticulture, conducts the hops research. He has made significant progress using supplemental lighting to control flowering. Rechcigl feels confident that enough progress has been made to steer interested growers in the right direction on how to produce hops successfully.

“We’ve figured out most of the kinks in it. We’re able to tell somebody that’s interested in trying to be a hops grower exactly how to do it and what it will take,” Rechcigl said. “This includes what the costs are to produce it. And what it takes to have a positive economic impact and make a profit on it.”

The field tours will start at 2:45 p.m. Growers will be able to see breeding for mechanical harvesting, disease management in tomato and watermelon, smart spray technology for herbicide applications, and effects of cover crops on vegetable production.

Florida Ag Expo online preregistration closes Nov. 15 at 11:59 a.m. Click here to register.