Before there was a beer nerd in me there was a radio nerd. When we moved to these borderlands at the east end of the Great Lakes, I immediately searched the dial for US public radio stations and, finding three, struck a bargain with NCPR that if they continue to make great local radio I will listen, participate in membership drives and give a dollar a day, too. Proving their commitment to "local" in many ways now sees their agriculture blog, The Dirt, exploring hop growing this week:
...farmers across the state are jumping on the hops bandwagon. But hops farmers will definitely face challenges. There’s the usual issue of mold and disease. Hops take two years to produce a full crop. And large scale pelletizing plants are few and far between. And if you’re going organic, it’s even harder: the pelletizer has to be deemed organic too, and there are only 4 certified organic pelletizing plants, all of which are in Yakima, Washington. What do you think about the hops boom? Do you think there’s opportunity there for New York state growers? Or are you worried that too many farmers will look to hops as a sort of miracle crop, and flood the market?
Good questions. It is interesting that back in the hop crisis of 2007-08, there was some resistance to the idea of local hop growing not to mention questions about the price implications. Sounds like these concerns were perhaps not borne out. As part of hop week, the station ran a story about a few upstate NY family farmers rediscovering the regions hop growing heritage. Give it a listen.