4-H State Potato Grading Competition

The 2017 4-H Potato Grading and Identification Contest was held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show on January 11. Seventy-three 4-H members comprising 16 teams participated in this exciting contest. 4-H youth from Bradford, Dauphin, Indiana, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and Union Counties all tested their knowledge of spuds.

Honors winners in the 4-H Potato Judging Contest.

Honors winners in the 4-H Potato Judging Contest.

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.

"A" Team winners

  • The first place “A” team was from Northampton County with team members Nathaniel Burkit, Larry Eyre, Daniel Eyre, and Rebecca VanBlargan.
  • The second place “A” team was from Montgomery County with team members Amy Wampler, Adrienna Mowrer, Emma Strausser, and Grace Strausser.
  • The third place “A” team was from Lehigh County, with team members Jonas Geiger, Marisa Berger, Sophia Vargas, and Alaina Muller.
  • The fourth place “A” team was from Indiana County with team members Elizabeth Bruner, Abigail Bruner, Micah Nygren, and John Clark Bruner.

"B" Team Winners

  • The first place “B” team was from Northampton County with team members Serenity Burkit, Rorie Anderson, and Claire Smith.
  • One of Montgomery County’s “B” team placed second with team members Grace Derstein, Tayler Garges, Emily Yeh, and Emma Wassel.
  • Another one of Montgomery County’s “B” team placed third with team members Bella Mullen, Luke Smith, Steven Sansone, and Annabelle Martindell. 
  • Lehigh County’s “B” team placed fourth with team members Kerigrace Hertzog, Sadie Berger, Jordan Wanamaker, and Liana Panik. 
  • A combined team with members Basil Bacorn and Willow Bacorn from Bradford County, April Flowrs from Indiana, and Sean Haines from Union placed fifth.  
  • Another one of Lehigh County’s “B” team placed sixth with team members Sara Minnich, Payge Haydt, and Keyaira Kern. 
  • Another one of Montgomery County’s “B” team placed seventh with team members Samantha Freed, Emmie Gahagan, Grace Gahagan, and Eva Garges

The top 3 individual awards:

  • First place - Claire Smith of Northampton
  • Second place - Larry Eyre of Northampton
  • Tied for third place - Tayler Garges of Montgomery and Samantha Freed of Montgomery.

Honors division of individuals:

  • First place - Olivia Geiger of Lehigh
  • Second place - Danielle Ford of Northampton
  • Third Place - Grace Royer of Lehigh

The Cloverbuds Awards:

  • Adam Geiger of Northampton County
  • Konnor Weisner of Lehigh County
  • Samuel Yeh of Montgomery County
  • Sara Freed of Montgomery 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!