The Virginia Tech’s Crops Judging was established in 1989. Since then, we had over 100 Crop Judgers. Spring semester, students take Crop Evaluation class. The course covers identification of over 400 plant and seed species including field crops, forage crops, beans and weeds (probated, noxious and common weeds). We also study crop diseases. In addition to plant identifications, students learn how to grade grains based on USDA Grain Grading Standards. The students also get additional grain grading training in Richmond (Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services). The third part of their training involves seed analysis for purity. During the fall semester, students who took the course in the spring become eligible to join the Crops Judging Team. From August-November, students are trained and coached to compete in the regional as well as the national crops contests, sponsored by the Kansas City Board of Trade and Chicago Board of Trade. The contest has three parts: identification of plants, seeds and plant diseases; commercial grain grading and seed analysis for purity. At each contest, the Federal Grain Inspection Service, the SDSU Seed Testing Lab, and individual coaches and contest superintendents prepared the seed, grain, and samples for the national competitions.
The Virginia Tech team has won several regional and national contests (major wins in 1993 and 2005). Every year, the highlight of the trip has been the students’ interaction with members of the Chicago Board of Trade, both on the trading floor and during a banquet. The weeklong trip to Kansas City and Chicago gives students tremendous exposure to the outside world. The competition and experience will impact these students and their future careers. Currently, many of our former crop judgers are employed by the Virginia Cooperative Extension, many seed and fertilizer companies, U.S. Navy, USDA and a few are farmers and farm managers.
At the national Crops Judging Contests held in Kansas City and Chicago, the team received 5th and 4th place, respectively. The team members also received several individual awards. Overall, it was a good year for the Crops Team. The 2011 crops judging team members were: Dalton Bennett (VA – CSES), Lewis Hammock (VA - CSES), Benjamin Williams (VA- CSES), Thomas Williamson (VA - CSES), Thomas Weaver (VA - AAEC), and Clay Zimmerman (DASC - MD).
- Ozzie Abaye