Double victory for Holt Farmers’ Club’s champion malting barley grower

William Mack, of Hempstead Hall, is presented with the spring and winter barley competiton trophies

William Mack, of Hempstead Hall, is presented with the spring and winter barley competiton trophies by Holt Farmers' Club chairman Jimmy Fowell (right). - Credit: Lynda Mack

For only the second time in almost seven decades, a north Norfolk malting barley grower won both winter and spring barley championships at Holt and District Farmers' Club.

William Mack, of Hempstead Hall, near Holt, was presented with his trophies by the judge, Bob King, of the Great Ryburgh-based Crisp Malting Group, who said the championship-winning sample of the spring variety Propino, which had also won the Hammond Trophy, was outstanding.

The Mott-Radclyffe Trophy for best winter sample also went to Mr Mack for his crop of Venture.

Mr Mack put his success down to good fortune, getting the perfect weather at the right time on his farm. He said: 'I was surprised to win the winter barley. I knew the spring barley was a very good looking sample, but to win the winter one with Venture, which is not usually so pretty, is very surprising.'

Last year, Melton Harrold became the competition's first double champion with a sample of Husky grown at Church Farm, Heacham.

The runner-up in the winter barley contest was entered by Fowell Brothers, of Itteringham. The club's chairman, Jimmy Fowell, said the crop had been grown on a field called 'Poverty' and had not looked especially impressive until it been combined when he had decided to enter the 'big and bold' grain sample with its 95kg bushelweight.

Chris Borrett, of independent merchants Adams and Howling, announced the results at the opening of the 69th season of Holt and District Farmers' Club. He said a total of 28 varieties had been judged with just 11 winter samples forward. Five years ago, more than 60 samples had been received.

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In a review of malting barley's prospects, Mr King said the new variety Laureate offered a significant yield advantage and quality for both brewers and distillers. He also said the Crisp Malting Group was determined to be in the world's top 10 maltsters – at present, it was ranked 11th but was the biggest independent business having expanded into Europe with operations in Germany and Poland.

Mr King was optimistic about prospects for malt, especially after distillers in Scotland announced plans to open a new plant. Demand for 'peat' malts was growing rapidly, he said, which was further reason for optimism, with growers in Norfolk well-placed to supply this demand.