This is part 1 of a 3 part series of articles, growing potatoes for show – introduction & best varieties, on growing prize winning potatoes for the show bench by John Trim, Fellow of the National Vegetable Society, show judge and horticultural lecturer.
- Growing Potatoes for Show, Introduction & Best Varieties
- Growing Potatoes for Show, Cultivation of Show Potatoes
- Growing Potatoes for Show Harvest & Showing Potatoes
On the face of it potatoes are not a hard crop to grow. Anyone with an allotment or kitchen garden can turn out a decent spud.
But what happens when those prime specimens you reserved for the show turn out after washing to be covered with common scab plus the odd hole or two made by a keeled slug or wire worm?
There is a world of difference between growing for the table, rather than growing to win at show level.
Here is the method that I employ, which is also that used by the British potato champion Sherie Plumb, who is an undoubted master in the art of growing exhibition potatoes.
What Potato Varieties to Grow for Show
Preparation for growing exhibition potatoes begins when selecting suitable varieties for show. These varieties must have shallow eyes and fine skin condition. I am afraid that the knobbly looking Pink Fir Apple may taste delicious but it will not cut the mustard with the judges on the show bench.
These are the desirable merits for an exhibition quality dish of potatoes. Medium size tubers of between 175-225 grams each, shapely, clean, clear skinned and with eyes that are few and shallow. For extra guidance refer to the RHS horticultural Handbook or the NVS judges guide.
So it stands to reason that, if you wish to succeed, you should chose potato varieties that conform to the required specification.
White Potatoes – Best Varieties for Show Grow Growing
At the present time the top potato in the white class is Winston. A consistent show winner with a skin colour that is pure white and in the past 10 years there has been no other white potato to touch it.
Unfortunately it’s looks are not backed up by it’s taste. A new arrival on the scene with all the right attributes and tipped to usurp Winston is Casablanca. On the plus side this one tastes good as well.
There are two other exhibition whites that are worth considering and they are Nadine and Harmony.
Coloured Potatoes – Best Varieties for Show Grow Growing
Also look out for NVS Amour, a very fine skinned potato with pink patches around the eyes. I actually beat the British champion on a couple of occasions growing that one, unfortunately it was discontinued for a time but has now been reintroduced due to popular demand by JBA potatoes.
Newcomers to the show scene and making a name for themselves are Blue Belle & Bonnie. Both of these are outstanding show varieties and now winning at the top level. If you want a good all red variety then go for Maxine.
Whichever varieties you choose always buy the best seed potatoes available. That is why I choose Scottish seed. Purely because it has the highest accreditation in the world against disease.