Are you hosting or attending an Oscar party tonight? If so maybe you’ll be partaking in the popular movie treat known as popcorn, and there’s some small chance our family farm may have raised that popcorn! Each year we dedicate somewhere between 10-15% of our acreage to popcorn production. Growing popcorn isn’t much different from raising regular field corn, but it provides us with a shot at a little more profit/acre while being a fun thing to talk about. Everyone in America is familiar with the cinematic snack, but have you seen it at farm level? Let’s take a quick look at some of our popcorn coming to life on Scott Farms!
Just days after seeding, this little popcorn plant is seeing the sun for the first time! This occurs sometime in April or May depending on how much rain we’ve had in early spring.
Looking at mid July here. The plants are probably 8-12′ tall and pollination has occurred. Pollen grains drop from the tassels on top of the plant and those that hit the silks protruding from the husk will travel through the silk to begin forming a kernel on the ear. Here I’ve pulled back the husk of the ear to expose the developing kernels inside.
Ears add weight up high on a corn stalk. Popcorn tends to have spindly stalks compared to standard corn hybrids which makes popcorn more susceptible to wind damage. We generally have some downed popcorn each year, but it’s one of the risks we take to diversify our operation.
This popcorn is matured and ready for harvest. Actually you can see some of it has already been harvested. Each year Weaver Popcorn raises a test plot on our ground, and that’s what has already been harvested here.
Popcorn on the left, regular field or dent corn on the right. Popcorn ears can be just as long as field corn ears, but this past season we raised a variety that puts on two ears so they’re a little shorter. Popcorn yields are much lower than field corn yields. For example in 2013 both crops were great for us. Corn averaged right at 200 bushels per acre while popcorn was around 80 bushels. We actually track popcorn in pounds rather bushels because it’s sold by the hundred weight. The 2013 harvest was one of our best ever at just over 4,800lbs/acre.
A bounty of popcorn being loaded into a waiting truck! We don’t normally store popcorn on the farm so this load would have been off for a road trip shortly after this photo was taken.
A load of golden grains spent the night in our shed so they could be delivered early the next morning. This was the first load of our 2013 popcorn crop. It’s all the same, but the funky lighting in the tool shed makes it look like two varieties.
Whether you’re watching the Oscars tonight, enjoying a movie, watching a ball game, or just having a snack at home take a second to remember each of those puffed kernels began as a little sprout in a farmer’s field somewhere. Maybe mine!