4-H State Potato Grading Competition

The 2015 4-H Potato Grading and Identification Contest was held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on January 13. Forty-five 4-H members comprising 12 teams participated in this exciting contest. Participants from Dauphin, Montgomery and Union Counties participated for the first time. Returning counties included Bradford, Indiana, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties who all tested their knowledge of spuds.

Northampton County 4-H Potato Juding Team.

Northampton County 4-H Potato Juding Team.

The contest is comprised of two divisions; basic and honors. Those who compete in the honors division are winners from previous years. The competitors in the basic division must test their skills at three stations. The first station is a “potato grading” station. The station is a timed event where competitors challenge to see who can grade 100 potatoes in the shortest time. Not only is quickness important, but so is accuracy. The second station is a “defect station” where competitors must accurately identify 20 different defects on 40 potatoes. The third station is a “plate” grading station. Five potatoes are put on each of four plates. Each plate must be evaluated on uniformity of size and shape and lack of defects. The plates must then be ranked in order. Two classes of plates must be judged.

Those in honors must complete three stations in addition to the basic stations. The fourth station is comprised of two more plate classes. The fifth station is estimating the weights of two large potatoes. At the sixth station the contestants must pick a Premium Pack. This means that out of 30 potatoes the ten most uniform and defect-free potatoes must be chosen.

This contest teaches and enhances life skills such as decision making, defending your answer, quickness, and observation. These skills are used for judging potatoes and are also used for judging livestock and other items in 4-H. Enhancing the use of these skills helps prepare 4-H members for future careers and activities.

There were a total of 33 4-H members in the basic division, an additional nine 4-H members in the honors division, and three Cloverbuds learning the program. The first place “A” team was from Northampton County with team members Nicole Fox, Alicia Huber, Derek Thomas, and Haylie Burkit. The second place “A” team was from Lehigh County with team members Bailey Vassallo, Tori Shiffert, and Annika DeMaster. The third place “A” team was from Montgomery County, named the Tator Tots, with team members Tanner Frankenfield, Colin Yeh, Grace Lindsay, Tayler Garges. The fourth place “A” team was from Dauphin County with team members Catherine Foulke, Madi Shaw, Tyler Shaw, Kylie Costik. The fifth place “A” team was from Indiana County with team members Jesse Isenberg, Elizabeth Bruner, and Abigail Bruner.  The sixth place “A” team was from Union County with team members Sean Haines, Garett Frank, Abigail Imgrund.

The first place “B” team was a combined team with members Basil Bacorn from Bradford, Nathaniel Burkit from Northampton, Daniel Eyre from Northampton, and Wyatt Yeakle from Dauphin. Northampton County’s “B” team placed second with team members Rebecca VanBlargan, Larry Eyer, Claire Smith, and Andrew Zamadics. Lehigh County’s “B” team placed third with team members Jonas Geiger, Ashleigh Albert, and Amber Schiffert. Montgomery County’s “B” team, named Spuds R Us, placed fourth with team members Mariellen Kehler, Naomi Lindsay, Annabelle Martindell, and Jessica Pierce. Montgomery County’s “B” team, named Tater Mashers, placed fifth with team members Leila Bechtel, Kyle Kucas, and Adrianna Maurer. Union County’s “B” team placed sixth with team members Shawna Franck, Paige Rhyne, and Skyler Smith. 

The top 9 individual awards were presented to the following: first- Alicia Huber of Northampton, second- Grace Lindsay of Montgomery, third- Jessie Isenberg of Indiana, fourth- Colin Yeh from Montgomery, fifth- Larry Eyre of Northampton, sixth- Basil Bacorn of Bradford, tied for eighth- Ashleigh Albert of Lehigh and Jessica Pierce of Montgomery, ninth- Tori Schiffert of Lehigh.

In the honors division Olivia Geiger of Lehigh placed first, Lillie Geiger of Lehigh placed second, Gary Yagerhofer of Northampton placed third, Brandon Selig of Lehigh placed fourth, Matthew Eyer of Northampton  placed fifth, Grace Royer of Lehigh placed sixth, and Ian Royer of Lehigh placed seventh, Danielle Ford of Northampton was eighth, Maggie Durkin of Lehigh was ninth. The Cloverbuds included John Clark Bruner of Indiana County, Konnor Weisner of Lehigh County, and Willow Bacorn of Bradford County.

All counties in Pennsylvania are encouraged to form a potato judging team for next year! Training materials are available, and groups are welcome to come for a trial run if they wish! Horticulture Educators, Master Gardeners, local gardeners, and potato producers are all good resources for volunteer leaders! Contact Kelly Weisner at kmb26@psu.edu if you’d like more information. Even if the 4-H members only ever learn a little bit about potatoes, they are developing important life skills and having a great time!