Those interested in becoming a part of Michigan's microbrewing industry can get a start by picking up a copy of Michigan State University Extension's "Sustainable Hop Production in the Great Lakes Region," a new publication designed to provide an introduction to hops production for potential growers.
The 12-page bulletin (number E3083) features an introduction to hops, history of its cultivation, characteristics and growth habits, growing requirements, disease management, harvest information, cost establishment and brewing economics. Maps, graphs and photos are also featured throughout the publication.
The idea for the printed piece began after MSU Extension staff members hosted two northwest Michigan workshops focused on hop production in 2008 and 2009 that drew more than 225 people.
"We are specifically interested in determining best management practices with an eye toward producing top-quality hops," says J Robert Sirrine, Leelanau County MSU Extension director and bulletin co-author. "As our role is to help address emerging needs, we sought and obtained funding for two hop variety trials at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station and the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center to determine what varieties grow well in our unique climatic conditions."
Sirrine added that though hops are a unique crop for Michigan, which is second only to California in overall crop diversity, growers have the knowledge and skills to successfully produce the crop.
The bulletin is the result of a collaboration between six MSU Extension educators and specialists from Leelanau and Berrien counties, the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station, the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center and Enviroweather, a weather-based pest management tool.
The bulletin is available for $5 from any MSU Extension county office or through the MSU Educational Materials Distribution Center at www.emdc.msue.msu.edu or 517-353-6740.