Jack Rechcigl, director of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (GCREC), discussed how Florida-grown hops are becoming increasingly popular amongst Florida microbreweries.
Rechcigl explained that a number of microbreweries had asked if hops could be grown in Florida. He said the crop is not normally grown in Florida due to high humidity, disease risk and insect pressure, but that a hops program was started last year due to the increasing interest.
“A number of our growers have asked us if we could start looking for alternative crops that they could potentially get into to help them,” Rechcigl said in regards to the increase in competition from Mexico and the decline of citrus crops in Florida.
In addition to artichokes and blackberries, hops was one of the alternative crops tested by the GCREC. Since the start of the program, Rechcigl said that there has been great success from the hops produced. “We’ve given our first hops to about four different craft breweries in the area, and a lot of them have already started making beer from our hops,” said Rechcigl, “They’ve looked at the quality of the hops we’ve provided and they’re very excited about it, and they’re commercially selling it already.”
Rechcigl said there are plans to expand the hops program because hops is believed to be a very good market for growers to enter in the future.
Soon, microbreweries all over the state may be boasting how their brews are uniquely Florida-produced.
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