In October Mickyp asked if I would like to take part in a one day workshop at Wisley, the subject was growing , showing and judging fruit..Never been to Wisley before and was amazed at the size of the place,not that we had time to look round, the lecture hall was a good walk from the car park.

On reaching the hall we registered then had tea/coffee and a slice of cake .

First subject was the show hand book, you could say this is the exhibitors and judges bible. Many people say I grow to eat , not to exhibit, yet most of the criteria fruit and vegetables are judged by were decided by ladies who went out and selected their ideal vegetables for preparing ready for the table. One example was the potato, it had to fit comfortably into the hand for holding while peeling, this gave a potato around 7oz, it had to have shallow eyes that did not need gouging out with the point of a knife, no lumps and bumps, again for ease of peeling, and as a bonus a nice skin finish

We were then taken through some of the dessert apples I never knew there were so many, the main advice was to check the root stock when buying trees to make sure they are not going to out grow the available space, then find out as much as possible about the variety you are thinking of buying, several varieties are prone to many problems , the example given was Cox Orange Pippin it appears its almost impossible for amateurs to produce quality fruit from these now. Also buy a suitable pollinator, the old crab apple seems to pollinate most other varieties .

The list of cooking apples was a fairly long list and the same selection principals applied as for dessert apples.

General principals for showing, Cooking apples Merits. Large shapely solid fruits with undamaged eyes, stalks intact and clear unblemished skins of colour characteristic of the variety

Defects. Fruit that are too small, misshapen, overripe or soft, or have any blemish including evidence of any physiological disorder such as bitter-pit.

You may not have any intentions of exhibiting but most of us like visiting horticultural shows and just a little knowledge of what the judges look for can increase the joy of the show. I have often stood by people and heard them say “I cannot see why that one is better than this one” . If you go to a show on the last day do not be surprised if you see a winning plate of dessert pears that have started to off. Once pears are ripe they go over in a matter of a day. Apples pears and gooseberries are allowed to be shown either ripe or unripe. Over ripeness is regarded as a defect in any fruit..

After a buffet lunch we had a go at judging , dessert apples, cooking apples, and dessert pears,.We all got caught out with the pears, the dish that had won a red card only 3 days earlier at a big show had actually started to rot. All fruit are judged on a point system in this order of importance Condition, Uniformity, Size and Colour. A deciding factor in vegetables can be the difficulty of growing certain veg, large onions, and cauliflowers in a collection will score higher than potatoes and carrots in a collection, assuming both sets of exhibits have been grown well.

Hope this write up will give a small insight into showing and judging and a bit of an understanding of whats going on and may be whet your appetite to have a go in a local show

8 Responses

  1. cilla says:

    That was really intresting Tony. I often wondered whether fruit should be ripe to show. Thank you for that insight.

  2. gertie says:

    A fascinating insight Tony … thank you. Did you like Wisley, well what little you saw of it? It’s worth a re-visit at any time :good:

  3. dandlyon says:

    Our allotments planning a trip there next summer, we have connections with a small coach firm that hires out 26 seater coach’s. and drivers.. We hope to do the Malvern shows also.

  4. Excellent, Tony! With regard to Cox’s apples, I love them and they’re the only ones I buy in the winter (I don’t grow any eating apples). Unfortunately I think the quality is deteriorating and so it was interesting to read that they have problems.

  5. Beanstew says:

    Must confess I was surprised that women had been permitted to determine the criteria for judging show exhibits ( most exhibitors are usually men) But I suppose if it had been otherwise, we might simply have had a race to the top for the biggest speciman. Did the lecturer give any reason why it was so difficult for amateurs to produce a good Cox’s Pippen? I found that fact really sad – they used to be my favourite apple.

  6. dandlyon says:

    Shelia for some reason it seems if there is anything that attacks apples Cox’s will get it.and amatuers do not have the armoury of bug and virus sprays available to the commercial growers. But like in the vegetable world new varieties are introduced with virus resistance genes, its the old story money for the commercial growers

  7. VegVamp says:

    Thank you so much for posting this Tony, I found it fascinating and a great insight into the world of judging. You are quite right it will give me a far better understanding of how and why things win at our local shows. And it was a great read. :good:

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