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Champion farmer grows best wheat crop for sixth year running

Robert Smart from Marshland St. James (second left) won the annual winter wheat competition at Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society. Also pictured, from left, are society president Colin Holman, chairman Paul Wortley, and Bill Clark, technical director at NIAB. Picture: Luke Lockhart

Robert Smart from Marshland St. James (second left) won the annual winter wheat competition at Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society. Also pictured, from left, are society president Colin Holman, chairman Paul Wortley, and Bill Clark, technical director at NIAB. Picture: Luke Lockhart

Luke Lockhart

A west Norfolk farmer has won his club's prize for the best winter wheat crop for the sixth year in a row.

Robert Smart from Marshland St James was awarded the trophy for Stoke Ferry Agricultural Society’s annual competition after impressing the judges with his crop of Zyatt wheat, which had a specific weight of 82.4.

Second place went to Jim Smart, also from Marshland St James, with a sample of Skyfall with a specific weight of 79.2 and Roger Eyles from Northwold claimed third place with a sample of Dunston with a specific weight of 77.2.

After the presentation, club members heard a talk from Bill Clark, technical director at NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany), about the latest plant breeding efforts and new fungicide developments to combat yield-killing wheat diseases such as septoria.

The plant pathologist told the society that during NIAB’s 100 years of plant science there has been a increase in average wheat yields from 2t/ha (tonnes per hectare) to 10t/ha – but although wheat yields are increasing by around 0.5pc per year, world population is increasing by over 2pc.

The society’s next meeting is on February 5 at Ryston Park Golf Club near Downham Market, with a talk by Thorney farmer Michael Sly on “educating the public on food”.

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