MU Extension researchers look at potential for Missouri hops

James Quinn and Patrick Byers, both horticulturists for University of Missouri Extension, are studying which varieties of hops grow best in Missouri.

Hops, which are cone-shaped flowers used largely to flavor and stabilize beer, are capable of growing in Missouri, though production is generally concentrated in states such as Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The goal of the project, funded by the Missouri Department of Agriculture, is to connect Missouri farmers and brewers. Craft breweries have been popping up all over the country, including Missouri. According the national Brewers Association, Missouri ranks 20th in number of craft breweries, up to 78 statewide in 2016 from 43 breweries in 2011. The association found that the economic impact of craft breweries in Missouri was $921 million in 2014.

In April, the researchers planted 10 varieties at Bradford, southeast of Columbia. Hops grow quickly, and by mid-July, some were already nearing harvest.

Quinn and Byers will hand-harvest them starting in August and continue into September.

The conversations and enthusiasm of farmers and brewers makes the whole project worthwhile, Quinn said. With six months under his belt, he hopes to see the project to continue to grow in local interest and involvement.

Read more: Columbia Missourian

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