Hops: Indiana’s newest cash crop

KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. (WISH) – Wednesday is National Drink Beer Day, and as Indiana brewers celebrate the local craft beer scene, farmers are also cashing in.

“It’s not just a bunch of 20-somethings there’s people all the way into their 80’s who enjoy craft beer you know,” said Ryan Hammer, the co-owner of Crazy Horse Hops. “More people are enjoying craft beer and that’s given rise to the market as we see it now.”

Crazy Horse Hops is a 10-acre hops farm in Knightstown in Henry County.

The farm is co-owned by Josh Martin.

“My grandfather farmed corn and soybean his entire life and that’s what I grew up doing and it took some coercing to jump out and do something different,” said Martin.

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The leap of faith appears to be paying off. Sun King, one of the state’s largest brewers is their biggest customer. They were also one of the first customers

“They were really excited about those hops that they got and said can you grow some more and we did it again the next year, planted some more plants and expanded and after the third year they wanted us to continue expanding,” said Hammer.

Today there are 900 poles, and 20,000 trellises that 10,000 plants will grow on.

They’re planted in April, harvested in late August. It takes three years to grow hops enough to harvest.

While business is booming, Indiana isn’t the best for their business.

“The hardest thing to fight in Indiana is the humidity and the climate,” said Martin.

To meet the demand Crazy Horse Hops plans to expand to 100 acres in the next four years.

The states that produce the most hops are Michigan and Washington. Washington makes up 72 percent of the hop production in the US.