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Maris Otter Bulletin – August 2022

Maris Otter Growers

Harvest 2022

Firstly, can I thank you for your hard work and the investment  you have made in this year’s Maris Otter crop. We are delighted that the variety has, in the main, delivered yet again, certainly in terms of quality if not record-breaking yields. We have nearly finished moving all the 21 crop that needed moving and there will be enough top quality Maris Otter to make an awful lot of high quality beer around the world, you have certainly played your part in the premium, craft beer sector. On behalf of ourselves and your maltster and brewer customers, thank you.

Harvest 2023

This time last year the Min-Max contracts we offered looked attractive for a large area of Maris Otter to be planted, we all know what has happened in the intervening 12 months. However, we have all stood on what was agreed and we will deliver very close to the full tonnage we contracted. With thoughts now firmly on harvest 2023, we are in the same conundrum but this time coupled with huge increases in your production costs. The volatility we have witnessed over the last 12 months has been nothing short of extraordinary and with everything going on around the world there is no reason to believe that it will not continue. However, with feed barley edging down toward £200/t for harvest 2023 the premiums over LIFFE wheat and feed barley and the Min-Max contracts on offer for 2023 crop Maris Otter look very useful and more than competitive against higher input alternatives.

The Craft Brewing Market

With storm clouds gathering on the economic horizon and the increasing toll of high inflation on living costs, it would be easy to paint a bleak picture for the short/medium term success of the beer industry. However, history tells us that a reduction in spending does not necessarily mean a huge reduction in craft beer consumption. Firstly, it is clear that consumers are happy to drink less but better beer, many tune in to local production initiatives with lower food miles and high quality ingredients and many consumers will want to treat themselves in order to get through the financial pain of life. Pubs will no doubt feel the squeeze and it will continue to be survival of the fittest, Covid has already accelerated that scenario but good pubs will thrive as human beings need human contact. Many craft brewers own their own pubs and also have ‘brewery taps’ where you can drink at the brewery, they are increasingly popular and show how innovative the sector is.

Whilst the cost of a tonne of malt matters to brewers (and brewery accountants!) the cost of energy, labour, glass, CO2 etc has increased dramatically to crazy levels so brewers have no choice but to pass this through to consumers, be this in pubs, hotels or the off trade. However, craft brewers are real stalwarts for quality and are wedded to using top quality raw materials therefore we might see some brewers come over to using Otter malt and buying into the unique story, we will keep you posted, but in the meantime please keep doing your bit to support the sector!

2022 Maris Otter Seed

All of this year’s Maris Otter seed has been tested for seed borne diseases and is clear of all disease. Therefore, we are more than happy to supply this year’s seed on a re-cleaned only basis, this not only presents you with a cost saving but also ticks a lot of environmental boxes. All other dressings are available but please speak to your Robin Appel Ltd contact to discuss in greater detail.

Over the last few years, we have worked hard with RGT at Duxford to clean up the variety and try and remove some of the off types, we think this work is coming through in seed stocks and this year we will be sowing 2t of what will be very pure pre basic higher-level seed. It has been a long and expensive exercise which is ongoing but we feel it is very worthwhile to try and improve the performance going forward, we would welcome any constructive comments and observations please.

Seed Bed Conditions

You will be more aware than us that the current dry conditions will present some serious issues in establishing next years crops, although we still have plenty of time before we think about sowing Otter, great care will be needed in getting a good chit to avoid high levels of volunteers in next year’s crops.

Wider Markets

Spring barley continues to yield its socks off throughout the UK and Denmark and premiums have come down dramatically from the high levels seen over the last few months. The performance of spring barley has astounded most people given the growing season. We will have an active domestic and export programme as always throughout this marketing year and look forward to talking to you about crop 2023 in due course.

Wishing you the very best of luck with the remainder of a truly memorable harvest and in getting crops established for crop 2023, it will no doubt be another very interesting year.

As always if you have any queries, please do contact your Robin Appel Ltd contact or e-mail