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mutt: how to change new mail checking frequency

mail_check doesn't have the effect I would expect:
When a message has been delivered to /var/mail/mpa, mutt takes about
10 minutes to notice the new mail, despite mail_check being set to small
values such as 5 or 1 (seconds).
Pressing ^L makes mutt notice new mail immediately, but I'd rather like
to automate the process. ;-)

Distribution: stable with all proposed and security updates applied

Package versions:
mutt 1.2.5-4
sendmail 8.9.3-23
fetchmail-ssl 5.5.3-1 (recompiled with Kerberos support)

Any ideas?


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