Looking for cash crops to augment the declining citrus industry is nothing new for Florida’s citrus growers; what is new is the latest crop up for consideration: hops. Hops are vining plants used by brewers to affect a beer’s flavor and aroma. It’s long been thought that The Sunshine State was too hot and humid to grow hops, but one UF horticulturist with a knack for home brewing, Brian Pearson, decided to give growing hops a try a few years ago. His success may have kicked off the next new cash crop in Florida.
High Hops Demand
His timing is spot-on. Craft beers have been exploding in the U.S. for many years, and Florida has seen its share of new, small breweries. According to a Lakeland Ledger article, 2015 data showed that Florida had more new craft brewery start-ups than any other state that year.
Craft breweries have to compete with large breweries for hops, and they don’t always have access to the most desirable hops. Having locally-grown hops available saves money on transportation costs and feeds the consumer demand for locally-sourced produce. In a nutshell, a high demand for hops is already present.
Florida Grown Hops
Pearson has tried a few different varieties of hops, including a native Navaho variety from New Mexico called “Neo Mexicanus.” According to Pearson, it offers a floral, citrus-like flavor when used in brewing. Pearson has also maintained that both brewer and grower interest has been very high, with one farmer already using Pearson’s know-how to grow his own hops.
While nothing will be able to replace citrus, hops may give citrus growers something to hang their hats on, at least until the citrus industry recovers.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.