Judges have decided to jointly award the first prize in the coveted Long Term Farm Stored (LTFS) Cox class to two Kent fruit farms this year – J L Baxter & Son and F W Mansfield & Son.
The prize money for the LTFS Cox class is sponsored by STS Refrigeration Ltd and the Trophy is presented by Marks and Spencer. A worthy runner up is Blackmoor Estates, Hampshire. Store operators from the winning farms will be awarded special cash prizes from Landseer Ltd with all presentations taking place on 18th March at East Malling Research following the AGM of the Marden Fruit Show Society prior to the EMRA/MFSS Top Fruit Storage Day.
There was insightful advice from this year’s winners for future competitors. When asked for his secrets of success, Paul Mansfield was full of praise for the contribution of Smartfresh to Cox quality. “Smartfresh gives us the assurance of a smooth transition to Southern Hemisphere fruit. We are still packing Cox well in excess of 7kg pressure, never heard of by this time of year in pre-Smartfresh days, and we think it also helps maintain that fantastic Cox flavour.” Paul considers that this helps the overall English Cox market because growers can deliver the best quality throughout the season.
Clive Baxter, whilst being happy to win the Trophy and prize, stresses that currently to win entrants need to concentrate on presentation. “I do have concerns over the weight of marks given for presentation. The emphasis on Class I fruit is not a reflection of all the fruit in a store – to win there must be a selection process by the store manager at harvest.” Clive thinks that one way to overcome this bias would be independent sampling. Maybe this is food for thought for the competition organising committee in the future?