Establishment and marketing of hops production in the mid-Atlantic

2015 Annual Report for ONE15-247

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2015: $14,956.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2017
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
James Simon
Rutgers University

Establishment and marketing of hops production in the mid-Atlantic


Preliminary studies undertaken in New Jersey by Rutgers University Cooperative Extension agents suggest that this region is conducive to hop production though the economics and profitability of commercial production for this area is not well developed and thus, considered risky. One of the major constraints by growers is the production of a consistent high quality product. Industry standards such as the content of alpha/beta acid and essential oil content in female flowers or cones must be understood and achieved by growers for them to develop a consistent product and improve economic feasibility.  The recent lack of hop cultivation in the Mid-Atlantic has left this US region void of base-line information regarding best horticultural practices to optimize growth, yield and chemistry of this potential cash crop.  Thus, the objectives of this study are to survey industry demand, initiate a demonstration hop plot and evaluate the standard and most promising newer hop varieties using a standard horticultural production system, record all costs of such production, and establish a hop chemical analysis service for growers so they can obtain a measure of their hop bittering acid and essential oil content. 

            In 2015, year 1 of this project, we established a hop demonstration field study at the Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm in Pittstown, NJ.  Hops were transplanted into the field, and grow sufficiently for some of the varieties to produce an initial harvest. In addition, we developed the chemical protocols to analyze hop cones for quality control and as a result, a hop analysis service was initiated as planned through the New Use Agriculture & Natural Products laboratory at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.  All the hop samples received from growers were analyzed with results communicated back. Growers were involved in both field days and twilight meetings. We have achieved nearly all of our timeline goals to date, and are currently analyzing cultivar performance and chemistry data from this past year. A scientific presentation on this initial work will be delivered as a poster at the 2016 North Eastern American Society for Horticultural Science (NE-ASHS) meeting in Philadelphia, PA this January.

Objectives/Performance Targets

A survey of craft brewers was drafted, reviewed and is in the final stages of editing. This survey will first be sent out to breweries throughout New Jersey, and will then be sent out to breweries though out the remainder of the Mid-Atlantic States.

A 0.25-acre demonstration plot was established at the Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm in Pittstown, NJ. Ten hop varieties from certified virus free hop plants obtained from Zerrillos Greenhouses (Syracuse, NY), and rhizomes obtained from Crosby Hop Farm LLC (Woodburn, OR) were organized and planted in a randomized complete block design. Construction of this hop field and key stages of hop growing were documented in film by a professional videographer (Jeff Linkous of The plot was been maintained throughout the season using Oregon and New York Hop Growers manuals as references, hops were harvested, weighed, and saved for chemical analysis by the Rutgers New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products laboratory.

A chemical analysis service for growers has been setup according to the American Society for Brewing Chemists (ASBC) industry standard protocols and samples from cooperating growers (Beau Byrtus and Frank Hahola) have been analyzed. In addition to total alpha and beta acid content, we are able to provide percent cohumulone, n + adhumulone, colupulone and n + colupulone using the ASBC-14 HPLC method. We have provided analysis for six NJ growers in our initial year and anticipate a large increase in year 2 with increased local press ( and extension outreach events (, which have brought greater exposure of this new project to the public.

Preliminary data has been obtained on the effect of environment on agronomic traits and hop chemical quality, this data will be presented at the NE-ASHS meeting in Philadelphia, PA January 2016.


Throughout the entire project timeline video will be taken of the establishment, management, harvest and packaging of the demonstration plot.  At the start of this project a Rutgers based website will be developed through which to disseminate information on growing hops in the Mid-Atlantic region to growers.  It will also serve as a vehicle to develop contact with Mid-Atlantic growers interested in sending the lab hops plants for analysis (with detailed information on their farm site and harvest/post-harvest methods).  The rapid and inexpensive screening service will be used as part of a longer-term strategy to provide sustainable support for hop growers after this project ends.  The work for this project will be done by two graduate students, undergraduate student labor and a videographer).

Video has been taken at the Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm in the hop demonstration plot throughout the growing season, and in the Rutgers New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products laboratory for the chemical profiling of the hop. This video is being edited by a professional videographer (Jeff Linkous of who reached out to our team upon hearing of our grant award.  A website has not yet been established for the project through Rutgers University, but this has been supplemented by local press interest including, and more recently NJ Monthly Magazine (story in progress). In addition, we have had multiple New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station grower meetings/events at the Snyder Research Farm, which hosts our hop demo plot. A formal website will be established in year 2.

Year 1 (March 1, 2015- March 1, 2016)

March 2015- Cones form the 2014 harvest will be collected from growers to analyze alpha and beta acids along with oil content.

            Hop samples were purchased from commercial sources to develop the lab protocol and with those results, hops from 2014 were also provided from one grower (Frank Hahola).  The varieties obtained were analyzed for both alpha/beta acids and essential oil profiles. In the first growing season of this project, 2015 hop samples from six growers were received and have been analyzed for alpha and beta acid content and, when the appropriate amount of hop material was provided, essential oil content by GC/MS. Alpha/beta acid and essential oil content from our trial is currently being analyzed. This preliminary data will be collated with year 2 data and additional samples to build a database of hop quality over season, environment (growers) and variety. This coupled with more information about each variety and best practices will be prepared into a fact sheet for growers.

March 2015- Survey to brewers (as many as possible of the 309 local brewers) on which varieties they are most interested in sourcing locally.

            A survey has been drafted and we are now consulting our partnership growers for their input so that we may most effectively direct questioning to answer most important questions. We plan to disseminate the survey out to growers in January 2016.

April/May 2015- Trellis for demonstration plot will be constructed by a non-university company in collaboration with the Rutgers Snyder Farm Staff.  Hops rhizomes will be planted shortly after the trellis is constructed.

            The trellis was constructed by Rutgers Snyder Farm Staff under the direction of Ed Dager.  The rhizomes of 10 varieties were transplanted into a randomized complete block design shortly after the trellis was built.

May-August 2015- Demonstration plot will be monitored weekly for disease, growth progression etc.  Grower plots of collaborators will also be visited to monitor for similar disease issues and growth progression.  Establishment of a database of information on Hops growing in NJ.

            The demonstration plot was carefully monitored weekly; this information was recorded, and is being used for the establishment of fertilizer and pesticide regimes for Mid-Atlantic hop growers. As is common in other perennial crops, first year growth of hops alone is not representative of hop growth habit in NJ, so we will continue to record this data through year 2, after which we will be in appropriate to report best IPM practices. 

August 2015- Harvest will be performed at Snyder Farm plot.  At this time samples will be collected from each of the grower plots.

            A boutique harvest was performed throughout August and September at the demonstration plot, and samples were also collected from collaborating growers plots for analysis.

September 2015-February 2016- Chemical analysis will be performed on all of the samples that were taken.  Results will be immediately sent to growers.  Data from both the grower surveys and chemical analysis will then be used to write up and distribute a report on year 1 establishment of a hops crop in the Mid-Atlantic region.

            Chemical analysis (alpha/beta acids) was conducted and completed on every hop sample growers provided. This free service assisted the six growers and results were provided back within two-three weeks of obtaining the samples. We expect to reduce this wait time in year two with a now standardized workflow established.  A more extensive chemical analysis including essential oil analysis was performed on samples from farmers included in the grant.  This information is currently being analyzed and will be sent back to those growers shortly.  Chemical analysis of hops from our demonstration plot will begin shortly.  The preliminary results will first be reported at the NE-ASHS Science Meeting in January 2016.  A more detailed report of year 1 establishment of a hops crop in the Mid-Atlantic will be written up later in 2016.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Throughout the year we have lent information and support to all growers who have contacted us and expressed interest in the project.  Most meetings have taken place at the Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm where the demonstration plot was used as a meeting point and hands on tool for discussing hop yard establishment and hop production.

We have also participated in two public outreach events at the Snyder Farm.  The first was “The great tomato tasting” where we demonstrated the technique used to extract oils from hop samples.

We also participated in a Fruit and Vegetable twilight meeting at the Snyder Farm to generate interest and relay knowledge to NJ fruit and vegetable growers on production of hops in NJ.  A factsheet was developed for this meeting which described all that was required to establish and manage a hop yard (i.e. supplies, costs, fertilizers, plant material). 


Beau Byrtus
Oast House Hop Farm
Jacobstown-Arneytown Road
Wrightstown, NJ 08562
Office Phone: 7326164725
Frank Hahola
Hahola Farms LLC
Mt Salem Road
Pittstown, NJ 08867
Winfred Cowgill
Agricultural Agent and REgional Fruit agent
Rutgers University Cooperative Extension of Hunterdon County
314 State Route 12, Bldg. 2
PO Box 2900
Flemington, NJ 08822-4102
Office Phone: 9087881339
Megan Muehlbauer
Graduate Student
Rutgers University
59 Dudley Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Ed Dager
Farm Supervisor
Rutgers University Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm - Rutgers Center for Sustainable Agriculture
140 Locust Grove Road
Pittstown, NJ 08867
Office Phone: 7329324000
Robert Pyne
Graduate Student
Rutgers University
59 Dudley Road
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Office Phone: 8489326244
John Grande
Rutgers University Clifford E. & Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm - Rutgers Center for Sustainable Agriculture
140 Locust Grove Road
Pittstown, NJ 08867
Office Phone: 9087309419