Guy Smith, David White and Alan Ponder are the three finalists battling it out for the title of UK Milling Wheat Champion.
They were shortlisted by judges from a strong field of entries for the nabim/Crops Milling Wheat Challenge. The aim of the award is to recognise the role of growers in meeting the exacting specifications for milling wheat and help spread best practice to other growers.
Martin Savage, trade policy manager at the National Association of British and Irish Millers, says: “The response was impressive in this, the first year, of the Milling Wheat Challenge. Entries came from across the wheat growing areas of the UK.”
The judges were impressed by the high standard of the entries, particularly the fact that all entrants had an excellent understanding of the needs of both the crop and their customers. “Many showed great sophistication in their approach to growing and marketing the crop.”
Owner and tenant Mr Smith farms 600ha in Essex growing wheat, oilseed rape, beans, linseed and peas. Eighty percent of his wheat is Group 1, mainly Xi19 and Solstice with some Gallant this year.
The rest is feed varieties grown for yield and early harvest to be sold off the combine in late July to catch early movement premiums.
Also farming in Essex is Mr Ponder, where milling wheat accounts for over 60% of the 1600ha of cropping at Deal Hall Farm. Other crops include linseed for human consumption, peas, oilseed rape for biofuel, lucerne and oats.
In Cambridgeshire, the third finalist, Mr White, manages 400ha growing wheat, of which 95% is Group 1 variety Solstice and this year he is trying a bit of Gallant and Group 2 Panorama. He also grows spring barley, oilseed rape and sugar beet.
Judging is to take place on-farm in late June. The profiles of the winners will appear in the 24 July edition of Crops with the overall winner being announced at a presentation ceremony at the Ritz Hotel on 4 November.
Guy Smith, Wigboro Wick, Essex
Alan Ponder, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex
David White, Little Wilbraham, Cambridgeshire
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