Hopping in the Backyard: Grow Your Own Small-Scale Specialty Hops Crop

| 4/29/2016 11:03:00 AM

Tags: hops, home brewing, beer, specialty crops, Susan Tipton Fox, North Carolina,

Hops jelly

The decision for us to grow hops on our farm is probably not what you think. It actually came about because of what we wanted our farm to stand for. That was Tradition and Heritage of crops — we are native to the mountains of Western North Carolina and want to be teachers as well as farmers.

I found copies of Agricultural Census for our families and counties and hops was listed as one of the crops!

Some refer to the growing of hops as a new idea, even suggesting it as a new "Specialty Crop". Well, to some it may be new, but for those of us native to this area, we know differently. Some people who are not "in the know" question the suitability of growing hops. While others say that North Carolina has the right growing climate to produce hops in abundance.

I remember hearing stories of the "good ole boys" making homebrew, and I also remember such sayings as, "that's growing as thick as hops". So, what happened? Why did hops just disappear and the memory with it?

Well, I did some research and found out it was pretty much the same as what happened to the tobacco crops of the 1970s: Mold and mildew wiped out crops, making it a financially unstable crop. One good thing is that there has been a lot of research of late into the growing and harvesting of the crop. We now know that the plants need a lot of breathing space.

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