Cornell University Lends a Hand to New York’s Rapidly Growing Craft Beer Industry

In *All, Agricultural Systems by Ag is America

As demand grows, New York’s craft beer producers are rushing to keep up. From 2012 to 2016, the number of breweries increased from 95 to 302, bringing in $3.5 billion annually to the state’s economy.

Despite the growing number of producers interested, brewing craft beer is no easy process. Cultivating hops can lead to pest issues and pervasive diseases, which leaves less-experienced producers feeling stuck. Cornell University plant disease experts David Gadoury and Bill Weldon are up for the challenge, and are providing expertise to help everyone from hops hobbyists to professional farmers using outreach materials, public presentations, and field visits.

“Many New York growers lack practical experience with hops,” said Gadoury. “It’s kind of like having a depth of knowledge on NASCAR and you’ve gone to a lot of races, but nothing in your experience equips you for getting behind the wheel and driving at 200 miles per hour. It’s a very different thing to read about it compared to doing it.”

What these producers need is a crash-course. By using grants from the Office of Engagement Initiatives and the USDA, Weldon traveled to the Pacific Northwest to learn from some of the most experienced hop growers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, where they produce roughly 98 percent of U.S. hops. He then met with New York State growers, where he asked them about their needs.

Weldon was able to combine the information he learned and the questions he was asked in creating a new Cornell website that is a hub for hops-related information. On the site, hop growers can find fact sheets, planting guides, and soon videos that all contain every detail about the hop-growing process.

The Cornell team is still doing research and adding to their site so that Cornell hop-growers and craft beer producers can find all the resources they need. For more information on their research and New York’s craft beer industry, read more here.

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