When selecting vegetables for exhibition, keep in mind that the judge will evaluate them on the basis of cleanliness, uniformity, condition, quality, and trueness to variety.
Cleanliness. Only enter vegetables that are clean and bright in appearance. Dirty vegetables create an unfavorable impression and indicate that the exhibitor was not really interested in preparing an attractive, first-rate display. Sometimes you can clean vegetables by washing them, while in other cases, wiping them with a soft, clean cloth, or brushing them lightly with a soft brush is sufficient. Further instructions for cleaning specific kinds of vegetables are given below.
Uniformity. The word “uniformity” as used in connection with vegetables in competition means that each specimen on a plate or each vegetable within a display is of similar size, color, stage of maturity, shape, and condition. Judges place considerable importance on the uniformity of vegetables exhibited. The larger your supply of vegetables, the better chance you have to choose specimens that are uniform in every respect.
Condition. Condition indicates how the crop was grown, harvested, and handled. Vegetables should be free of dirt, cuts, bruises, and defects, as well as insect or disease damage.
Quality. This term refers to the prime eating condition of any vegetable but also indicates the best color development, shape, texture, and size. Many exhibitors seem to think that a winning vegetable entry should have huge or even gigantic specimens. Although large size is important in a few classes (i.e. heaviest cabbage, largest pumpkin, or biggest watermelon), considerably less emphasis is placed on large size in most vegetable classes. In deciding on the size of the vegetables to exhibit at the fair, think in terms of the sizes most in demand by consumers at the supermarkets. They generally prefer average-sized specimens over extremely large or quite small ones. Select vegetables that have a deep, clear, intense color. Avoid dull-colored specimens, or those that are deep-colored due to over-ripeness. Experience will help you determine the best time to harvest a particular vegetable.
Trueness to variety. Each vegetable variety has its own special characteristics. Therefore, an exhibit should consist entirely of vegetables of the same variety. For example, a plate of four ‘Better Boy’ tomatoes and one ‘Jubilee’ tomato (an orange-fruited variety) would certainly make up a plate of fine tomatoes, but it would not be true-to-variety.