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Hoppy to be here— Cornell to host Lake Erie Hops conference

May 21, 2015
Westfield Republican

By Tim Weigle

Cornell Cooperative Extension Chautauqua County's Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is excited to announce that the farm brewery legislation recently passed in New York State, this has created the need for locally grown brewing materials; making hops one of the fastest growing agricultural commodities in the state. This has created a resurgence of New York's hops industry that, in 1849, led the nation in hops production and was selling over three million pounds annually by 1855. Disease, insects and finally prohibition, were responsible for the collapse of the hops industry in New York and its move to the Pacific Northwest, where the majority of production remains today.

The interest in hops production can be seen in people from all walks of life, many with little to no agricultural background or production experience outside of a home garden. Even those with an agricultural background have little experience to call upon when dealing with a perennial plant that can grow over 20 feet tall in a single season. To address the steep learning curve for both of these groups regarding hops production, processing and marketing, the NYS IPM Program in conjunction with the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is hosting a conference "Hops Production in the Lake Erie Region". While most conferences are held during the dormant season, this conference is planned to take advantage of the two demonstrations and research hop yards located at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory (CLEREL) in Portland, NY. Conference participants will have the opportunity to learn about hops in a classroom setting but will be able to experience hops production in the field as well.

Article Photos

Photo by Emma Williams
Demonstration on the use of a rotary hoe for weed management at the 2014 Lake Erie Hops Conference.

The conference is scheduled for Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27. Friday's agenda will focus on what you should know before getting into hops, with classroom and in-field opportunities to learn first-hand the how's' and whys of hops production. Saturday will provide both the novice and experienced grower the information they need to help them become profitable in their hop growing enterprise.

This conference will feature a number of speakers that are both locally and nationally known for their hops expertise. Featured speakers include Mike Roy from Roy Farms Inc. in Moxee Washington; Mary Gardiner, Ohio State University; Beth Reed, Small Business Development Center, Jamestown CC; Steve Miller, Hops Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension; David Spann of the Chautauqua County Soil & Water Conservation District; Stephan Schmidt, Schmidt Farm, Farmington, NY; Michael Madison, Belle Terre Irrigation and Dan Kamburoff, Columbus Irrigation Company.

The conference starts at 9 AM and will run until 4 PM each day. The CLEREL meeting facilities, 6592 West Main Road, Portland, NY 14769 will be used for the classroom portion of the program. There will be components of the program that will take place in the hopyard (weather permitting) so appropriate clothing is suggested. Registration for the conference is available for single days at $75/day with a discounted rate of $125 when registering for both days.

To register for the conference, please contact Kate at (716) 792-2800 x202 or visit the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program website at Due to the size of the CLEREL meeting room, class size is limited to 80 participants each day so early sign up is encouraged to ensure a spot at the conference.

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is a cooperative effort between Cornell and Penn State Universities; the participating Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations of Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus Counties in New York and Erie County in Pennsylvania; and participating industry partners National Grape Cooperative (Welch's), Constellation Brands and Walkers Fruit Basket. The LERGP extension team provides research-based educational programming for commercial grape growers throughout the year at venues across the Lake Erie grape belt. For more information on LERGP, call 716-792-2800 or visit our website at



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