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Grant to Support Development of Midwest Hop Production
Nebraska Ag Connection - 11/09/2017

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is partnering with Plattsmouth, Neb. based, Midwest Hop Producers, LLC to develop a production market for locally sourced hops. A $69,315 grant awarded to the company from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will further their efforts to identify hop cultivars adapted to the Midwest.

Hops contribute the bitter and aromatic flavors to beer. Recent increasing demand in specialty beers and locally sourced ingredients, compounded with the decline in worldwide hop production and commodity crop prices, has resulted in an increased interest in local hop production. This project is focused on identifying adaptation traits important for growing hops in the region.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop a Nebraska adapted hop that also has a unique flavor profile of interest to brewers, that is high yielding with minimal pest issues," said Keenan Amundsen, associate professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. "Midwest Hop Producers are the current experts on growing hops in Nebraska so we're excited to partner with them." During this project, Amundsen will offer Midwest Hop Producers, LLC technical expertise on genetic marker work.

The project will also lay groundwork for a regional hops breeding program. The team is evaluating the performance of commercial and local wild hops on the university's East Campus and in Plattsmouth.

"This research will provide a foundation for expanding production and successful hops farming in the area. Our competitive advantage of cultivar evaluations and collaborative partnerships with growers and brewers will establish hop farming and production as a thriving and viable business in the Midwest," said Midwest Hop Producers Owner Annette Wiles.

The project was funded as part of a series of USDA grants aimed at bringing agricultural business ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace. Funding is made through NIFA's Small Business Innovation Research Program. The program is coordinated by the Small Business Administration and administered by 11 federal agencies, including USDA. It encourages domestic small businesses to engage in high-growth research and development with high potential for commercialization and that could lead to significant public benefit.

Midwest Hop Producers, LLC was formed in 2014 by Annette and Bruce Wiles. The mission of the company is to establish a well-managed hop enterprise that provides farmers with a high-value crop that returns the majority of the crop value back to growers, and provides high quality whole leaf and pelletized hops to everyone from craft brewers to home brewers while maximizing environmental stewardship through sustainable practices.

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