NVS Judges Examinations and Seminar

9th Nov 2000

Every year the National Vegetable Society hold judges examinations during the beginning of October at their five branches. This has now been long established and is an excellent way of getting NVS members who would like to become judges to fulfil their ambitions.

Reddy Red Spring Onion
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Written Paper

The NVS examination is in two parts, the first is a written paper, and if the prospective judge has some growing experience and has studied the NVS judging handbook, then the exam is not difficult at all. In fact I had a read of the paper that Saturday and I thought all the question were very fair with no catch or tricky ones.

Practical Test

The second part of the examination is a practical test where committee members will have brought along their vegetables and the Branch Chairman will then lay out some classes with over five dishes in each class. Each dish will be marked with a letter from 'A' to however many dishes there are in the class. Having sat the written exam, the candidate is then taken to another room and asked to judge each class by awarding First, Second and Third prizes. As well as the single dishes there are two collections laid out, usually six dishes of three cultivars and the candidate has to point each in order to determine which one is the winner.

Prior to the candidates judging the practical, the classes would have been pre judged by two qualified NVS judges and their results placed in a sealed envelop to be posted together with the candidates results to the markers.

Entering

The NVS are always looking for judges so why not have a go next October, you have plenty of time between now and then to hone your skills by studying the NVS Judges Guide. The only criteria is that you have to be a member of the NVS and pay a small examination fee. You can get further details from the NVS General Secretary Mr Len Cox, 33 Newmarket Road, Redcar, Cleveland. TS10 2HY who will give you the name and address of your nearest Branch Secretary

Judges Seminar

After the examination was over Ivor Mace and myself were invited to hold a Judges Seminar in the afternoon with the intention of raising Judges awareness of potential problems and how to overcome them. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the turn out as the majority that turned up were committee members. This makes me wonder, are there judges out there who think they know everything there is to know about judging?, I certainly do not, and I have always picked up some little snippet of knowledge every time I have participated at such seminars.

The first point to remember is that judging is not an exact science and never will be so what Ivor and I did was to talk about some of the grey areas so that all judges, ideally, will not only be thinking along the same lines, but judging along those lines as well. This year we had laid out some questions for discussion by the panel (those present) and over the next few weeks I will give you a few to ponder over and I hope that some of you will be prepared to put pen to paper and reply to me via my column.

Question 1

Different vegetables have different pointing criteria, depending on the degree of difficulty of each aspect of that vegetable.

A - In vegetable collections of only one specimen of each kind, do the panel think it"s fairest to award maximum points for 'Uniformity' to each vegetable or none of the points for ‘Uniformity" to each vegetable? bear in mind that points for ‘Uniformity' vary from kind to kind according to it's importance.

B - Some vegetables are usually exhibited in pairs, or 3, 5 or 6 specimens. These vegetable are normally those kinds that involve the exhibiting of the whole plant e.g. Onion, Leeks, Celery, Cauliflower, root crops such as Carrots and Parsnips and so on. Other vegetables are those where more than one specimen can be obtained from one plant. Examples of these are Peas, Beans, Potatoes, Cucumbers, Potatoes and Tomatoes as well as Aubergines Peppers and Okra. Quite often these are required in quantities of 6, 9 or 12 per dish. Do the panel think that in single specimen collections they should: 

    1. Be kept apart by schedule makers? 
    2. be given equal consideration? 
    3. Be expected to produce 2 specimens to reflect comparably with the whole plant kind? 

We had considerable debate about this with some initial comment such as ‘just judge as you would normally' The crunch question in part 1 is do you award maximum or zero points as regards ‘Uniformity'. As there is only one specimen of each kind then surely that specimen must be given full points as it can only be as uniform as itself, but is that really fair?

For instance, Okra and Potatoes are given 5 points for Uniformity with Okra having a maximum points value of 18 with Potatoes having 20, both of which are also produced in multiples from one plant.

If one collection therefore had the following (Maximum ‘Uniformity' points in brackets) Collection A - Potato (5), Runner Bean (4), Pea (4), Okra (5), Tomato (4) and Cucumber (4), a maximum ‘Uniformity' points value of 26 points.

The other collection had the following - Collection B - Celery (4) Onions - Large Exhibition (4) Leeks (4) Parsnips (4) Cauliflower (4) and Long Carrot (4) a maximum ‘Uniformity' points value of 24 points.

The above raises numerous points for discussion, Collection A is already ahead on ‘Uniformity' by two points even though three dishes have only a maximum points value of 18, and all the dishes are from a multi cropping plant.

Collection B is naturally starting off with a deficit of 2 points yet all his dishes have a potential of 20 points and he has used his whole plant.

I leave you to ponder over it while I prepare next weeks article on the continuing theme of Judging.


The NVS examination is in two parts, the first is a written paper, and if the prospective judge has some growing experience and has studied the NVS judging handbook, then the exam is not difficult at all. The second part of the examination is a practical test where committee members will have brought along their vegetables and the Branch Chairman will then lay out some classes with over five dishes in each class.
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