A service for the public to learn even more about orchids!
At one point or another, every orchid lover comes across or hears about an award winning orchid. But what does it actually mean? And why did that plant receive an award? Simply put, it was judged by a team of judges. Did you know that there are many orchid judging systems, and each system has its own set of rules and goals? The SFO has also developed its own judging system, the purpose of which is the promotion and appreciation of orchids, as well as the education of the public about these fascinating plants. It is a path where orchid plants and flowers can be evaluated and judged by the SFO judges, who provide this service through regularly scheduled sessions and at orchid shows in which the SFO participates. On these occasions, the reasons for the awards issued to exhibitors and enthusiasts are also explained to the public, so that our beloved orchids are always better known and appreciated!
Judging orchids requires the ability to recognize the qualities of a plant and flower that are superior to the type of a species or the average of a hybrid, and acting accordingly regardless of any factor extraneous to the quality of the plant in question. The essence of orchid judging, however, is the ability to quantify all the criteria to be evaluated in a fair and equitable way, and without the influence of any prejudice or personal taste. It would seem an easy task, but how do you quantify the difference between “beautiful” and “very beautiful”? How do you manage to recognize and evaluate the qualities of a specimen that you personally dislike? This is the challenge that all SFO student judges must constantly face.
The most traditional form of judging. The in-person judging can be in the form of a table-judging session or judging at orchid shows or events.
The difference between the two judging methods is that in the former, each plant is evaluated according to its own merits and characteristics with a specific scoring system based on the type of orchid presented, while in the latter the best specimens are evaluated within certain categories chosen according to the plants exhibited in each show.
In short, the table-judging session is like a test where one's abilities are evaluated according to one's own merits, while the show judging is more comparable to a beauty contest where the winners are the most beautiful specimens within different categories.
It’s not designed as a substitute for the SFO judging system, but rather as a complement to it, developed specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impossibility of meeting in person.
Obviously, judging in person can never be replaced for the simple fact that there are some parameters such as the substance or the fragrance of a flower (Yes! Fragrance is a judging criterion in the SFO Judging System!) that are impossible to judge if not physically present.
On the other hand, there are advantages that only an online judging session can offer, such as the possibility of presenting a plant when flowering is at its peak, thus eliminating the risk of missing the dates of a show or inperson judging session. Another notable advantage is the elimination of geographical boundaries, allowing the participation of growers anywhere in the world!
Aren't you curious? Then please read here!
The SFO judging system training coordinator is Alejandro Capriles. He was the Cattleya Hybridizer for Fred A. Stewart Orchids in San Gabriel, California during the 70s and 80s, an accredited AOS Judge (now retired) as well as Training Coordinator for the Pacific South Region of the AOS and Editor of the Orchid Digest in the 90s, before moving to Italy in 2002.
He has always remained passionate about orchids and orchid judging, a passion that continues in his his involvement with the SFO and the creation of its Judging System.
To be part of the SFO judgment system. It’s not required to be a living encyclopedia on Orchidaceae, to be a grower with decades of experience or hundreds of cultivated plants, but to have a great desire to learn and get involved!
First of all, as in any judging system, you need to be an SFO member. The qualification of student or judge is closely correlated with one's stay in the association, so membership is important. After which, anyone who is an SFO member and aspires to become a student and subsequently a judge, can apply for the appointment as a student judge, regardless of place of residence and, after satisfactorily completing the requirements of the training program, can eventually become an accredited judge. Participation in the training program is free and no further payment other than SFO membership is required.
The training program consists of a series of monthly tests plus one presentation every semester (the famous Soirées Torquemada) in which each student or associate judge is required to develop a theme on a specific genus assigned by the training coordinator, designed to strengthen any weak points pertinent to the judging of orchids the student or associate judge may have. The minimum training period of a student judge is 18 months; upon satisfactory completion of the training program’s requirements and upon evaluation and recommendation of the training coordinator, the student judge may be considered for promotion to the status of associate judge. After the subsequent minimum training period of 18 months, and after demonstrating satisfactory completion of the required tasks, an associate judge is ready to be considered for promotion to accredited judge status. In short, a real school to learn more about orchids!