4-H youth tested their knowledge of spuds at the 2019 4-H Potato Grading and Identification Contest held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.

The Lehigh County “A” team placed second with team members Jonas Geiger of Schnecksville, Marisa Berger of Kutztown, Carrie Spangler of Allentown, and Kerigrace Hertzog of Allentown.

Lehigh County’s “B” team placed second with team members Sadie Berger of Kutztown, Haley Dietrich of Kempton, Konnor Weisner of Lenhartsville, and Samuel Lazarus of Schnecksville. The joint Northampton (N) and Lehigh (L) County “B” team placed sixth with team members Julia DiNapoli (N), Parker Haydt (N), Porter Lindeman (N), and Kaytlin Dietrich (L) of Kempton.

The top individual awards were presented to the following from Lehigh County: 4th place to Marisa Berger, 6th place to Sadie Berger, and 8th place to Kerigrace Hertzog.

Participants included 92 4-H members comprising 21 teams from Mifflin, Lebanon, Bradford, Indiana, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and Union counties.

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.

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 10 most uniform and defect-free potatoes must be chosen.

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 for more information.

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