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Conference Brews Interest in Growing Hops in Northeast

Essex--The fourth annual Winter Hops Conference, Feb. 22 in Essex, features a full slate of speakers who will discussĀ  hops research, management practices, infrastructure for small-scale hops production, and other topics of interest to hop growers.

The conference, sponsored by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, is scheduled for the Essex Resort and Spa. It will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 9 a.m.

Interested growers may register until Feb. 8 at www.uvm.edu/extension/hopsconference. The fee, which includes lunch, is $40 for Northeast Hops Alliance (NeHA) members, $45 for all others.

To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, please contact Susan Brouillette by Feb. 8 at (802) 524-6501, ext. 432, or (800) 639-2130 (toll-free in Vermont) or by e-mail at susan.brouillette@uvm.edu.

Hops growers will have an opportunity to hear from experts hailing from Maine to Washington including Graham Ollard, a hops consultant with Agrimanagement, Inc. in Washington's Yakima Valley. He will discuss fertility and pest management in hops. Rich Andrews, a Colorado organic hops farmer, will share his experiences growing hops as well as his innovative solar hop and herb dryer design.

Other speakers include Krista Delahunty and Jason Johnston, owners of Aroostook Hops in Westfield, Maine, who grow hops organically to sell to brewers in Maine and New Hampshire. The couple received a one-year Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant to look at how drip irrigation and cover crops affect hop yield and soil nutrient levels.

A number of Vermont experts also are on the agenda including brewers from the Vermont Pub and Brewery, Burlington, and the Bobcat Cafe and Brewery, Bristol, who will talk about proper drying and storage techniques for hops, and how that ultimately can affect the flavor of the finished product.

Growers will receive an equipment update on modifications made to the UVM Extension small-scale hops harvester as well as details about oast designs and how the hops drying calculator works. Vermont hop growers Kris Anderson, Addison, and Bill Powell, Calais, have been working with UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences students to develop a pelletizer that would be suitable for small-scale hops production. They will share an update on their findings with the audience. The session will be led by Chris Callahan, UVM Extension agricultural engineer.

The UVM Extension Northwest Crops and Soils Team, led by Dr. Heather Darby, will discuss their latest hop research results on varietal evaluations, pest control, cover cropping and brewing quality characteristics.

Conference sponsors include NeHA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency, the Northeastern Integrated Pest Management Center and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. For questions, call (802) 524-6501 or (800) 639-2130 (Vermont calls only) and ask for Heather Darby or Rosalie Madden.

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