Barley grower crowned supreme champion for third year running - but what's his secret?
PUBLISHED: 05:30 11 October 2019 | UPDATED: 05:30 11 October 2019
An all-conquering north Norfolk farmer has been crowned supreme barley champion by his club for an unprecedented third year in a row.
William Mack, of Hempstead Hall near Holt, won the Holt and District Farmers' Club annual championship with a sample of Propino spring barley.
After securing the Hammond Trophy, his sample will now be judged against the winner from rival Stalham Farmers' Club for the inter-club title- which Mr Mack also currently holds.
He said there was no magic formula to his award-winning barley - but it was helped by the light free-draining land and favourable coastal climate on his 300-acre farm.
"I didn't think I was going to win this year, as I didn't think it was such a good sample," said Mr Mack. "I don't think anyone has ever won the overall prize even twice before.
"I am not sure what the secret is. But being a small farm we are able to do things at the right time. People with more to do have to get on with things a bit sooner or later, but we can get on at exactly the right time.
"It is fairly free-draining light land and we also chop the straw and mix it in which makes the soil more workable, and puts a bit more goodness into the soil."
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Mr Mack said this would probably be the last year he would grow Propino barley, as the market favoured different varieties such as Laureate.
"People don't seem to want Propino any more," he said. "It is a shame because it is a nice barley. It always yields well, looks good and stands up well. We have been growing it for six or seven years."
Chris Borrett, of grain merchants Adams and Howling, said Mr Mack's sample stood out for its bold, golden character unlike the very bleached grains from the 2017 harvest.
The judge was Bob King, commercial director for the Great-Ryburgh-based Crisp Malting Group, who also gave Mr Mack the winter barley trophy for a sample of Craft, with Martin Fisher from Thurning in second place with a sample of Grafton, and Jack Hammond of Aldborough Farms in third place with a sample of Flagon.
Mr Fisher was also the runner-up behind Mr Mack in the spring barley competition, with third place going to Bill van Poortvliet from Stratton Streless Estates with a sample of Laureate.