An explosion in craft brewing in Arkansas has raised interest in hops, a crop whose commercial potential is being evaluated by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

More than 80 varieties of hops are grown commercially, with even more in evaluation trials. However, research is needed to find just the right hops for Arkansas brewers, according to experts.

“With the Arkansas craft beer brewing industry quadrupling in recent years, local breweries are in constant need of hops as a main ingredient in their beer,” said Amanda McWhirt, commercial horticulture crop specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “We are working to find the right hops and the right hop-growing techniques to enable Arkansas brewers to use locally sourced hops.”

McWhirt is part of the Division of Agriculture’s three-member hops research team, which includes Jackie Lee, director of the Fruit Research Station at Clarksville, and Renee Threlfall, a research scientist in food science.

What the trio has discovered so far in their research will be on display Thursday, Aug. 15, during Arkansas’ first Hops Workshop to be held at the Fruit Research Station, 1749 Arkansas Highway 818. The workshop will be held from 2-7 p.m.

The agenda will include varietal research and production strategies including trellising options and pruning dates as well as a grower panel discussion with Larry Galligan, Riverside Specialty Farms; Ronnie Ledford, River Valley Hops; and Brother Basil of the Subiaco Monastery.

“We will be showing six different varieties’ growth and development,” McWhirt said. “We do see some big differences in vigor between varieties.”

Attendees will also learn about how different pruning dates affect bine growth, how hops plants are trained and harvested.

The Hops Workshop will be held from 2-7 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Fruit Research Station. Registration is $20 if paid by Aug. 13. After that, the fee is $30. Pariticipants may register online at

Details: or 501-671-2237.