Judging Seminar for Vegetable Judges

5th Aug 1998

The Welsh Branch of the National Vegetable Society held a seminar for judges or prospective judges on Saturday 20th June at Builth Wells, Mid Wales where Ivor Mace and myself had organised some questions for discussion from the new NVS Judges guide. Those present were split up into five groups and each group given a list of questions intended to raise awareness of the differences between the traditional RHS Show Handbook and the new NVS guide. The questions were intended to provoke discussion between members so that they would leave the seminar more aware of some of the differences and possibly more knowledgeable on the question of judging.

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They were all informed at the beginning that neither Ivor or myself profess to be expert judges and that judging is not and never will be an exact science so that if one group arrived at a slightly different answer to the one Ivor and I had, then that was fine. More importantly, from such deviations in answers between the judging groups, and from the discussions that followed, we did arrive at a consensus of opinion on most of the questions.

A three part question that brought about a great deal of debate was the following on onions

A, Using the NVS book, do you penalise an exhibit of large onions which are still green and unripe at the bottom for Condition or for Colour?

B, The NVS book says that 500mm in circumference is to be considered good size (19) What points would you award for a set 20"in circumference and how many point would you award for a set 25"in circumference?

C, Do you award a full 2 points for an exhibit that is ripened well throughout or do you allocate the 2 points for colour differently by taking into account that the NVS book says you are looking for straw coloured specimens.

The consensus of opinion on the first part was that the exhibit would be down-pointed on both Condition and Colour. On part B, Ivor was adamant that some judges would now penalise large onions that were over the 500mm circumference as they would probably give them no extra points for size. For example, if you have a set of onions that measure 500mm, then they could get the maximum of 5 points. Another set may have onions measuring 600mm and may well still have the same points value as the others.Part C was raised by Ivor as the term straw coloured can mean anything; some selections of exhibition onions, even when fully harvested, still have a pale green to pale white colour and these may now be down-pointed as being not of an overall straw colour.

Another question was on beetroot:

The RHS book gives a third of the 15 points for colour of flesh in globe and cylindrical beetroot. The new NVS book only gives 2 points for colour. Do we assume that the 2 points are to cover internal and external colour and if so ,is the new pointing system going to mean that the colour of flesh is going to be far less important.

The consensus of opinion on this was that the colour of flesh in beetroot is not as important any more as it is in the RHS handbook and size and shape will now take precedence, being given a total of 5 points.

Other points raised were as follows:

With regard to runner beans, size and shape is now more critical in the NVS book than in the RHS book as there is 1 point less for colour in the NVS and half a point extra for shape. Everyone agreed therefore that preference would probably be given to a set of beans having a paler colour than another but having good shape and size.

There is a lot of difference between the two books on pointing the trench celery; from now on, uniformity or colour is not as important as under the RHS rules with the emphasis now being moved on to size and shape. These changes will certainly affect the judge when faced with a class of celery where a particularly dish is not perhaps blanched enough and not even uniform.

Finally, an interesting question on leeks which now have 5 points for size in the NVS book and none in the RHS book:- from now on, are NVS judges going to have to measure blanch leeks in order to cube them up to find the biggest leek so that the points for size can be awarded accordingly, particularly now that a blanch leek according to the NVS book has to be over 150mm in length from root plate to button? If for example you were judging a hypothetical NVS show with 5 leeks in the class measuring up as follows:

Set Length to the tight button (ins) Circumference (ins) Cubic capacity (ins)
1 20 7 77.96
2 16 8 81.47
3 14 9 90.22
4 12 10.5 105.26
5 6 16 122.23

Believe or not the largest leek (if size means largest or biggest) would be Set 5 with a blanch of only 150mm (approx. 6 inches in length) and this set should therefore be given the maximum of 5 points with the others downpointed accordingly. Ivor was quite adamant that if size is to be awarded points, then each set will have to be measured to find the largest or biggest leek. This would mean that all judges would have to carry a tape measure with them, know how to and where to position the tape along the barrel and, then using a chart or a calculator, determine the cubic capacity. Is this really the way that the NVS wants this class to be judged? Finally the judge would also have to decide which set had good balance between barrel length and circumference.

I would love to have your opinion on any of the above items as it is vital that everyone judges to the same standards.


Judging is not and never will be an exact science so that if one group arrived at a slightly different answer to the one Ivor and I had, then that was fine. More importantly, from such deviations in answers between the judging groups, and from the discussions that followed, we did arrive at a consensus of opinion on most of the questions.
Other 1998 articles of interest

· Tomatoes and Large Exhibition...
· The path towards winning the...
· Seed Potatoes, Onions and...
· Onion & Leek Beds - Problems...
· This Year's Two Types of Blanch...
· A Guide to Celery Growing
· Large Exhibition Onions -...
· Harvesting Shallots
· End of the Showing Season
· Judging Seminar for Vegetable...
· Avoiding Malformed Shallots
· Exhibition Quality Potatoes in...
· How to Become a Better Grower
· Winning through Inclement...
· Bursting Foliage on the Leeks

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