Where Did Your Oscar Party Popcorn Come From?

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!

 

PopcornJust 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.

 

Popcorn EarLooking 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.

 

Down PopcornEars 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.

 

Popcorn via the farmerslife.comThis 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 via thefarmerslife.comPopcorn 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.

 

Loading Popcorn via thefarmerslife.comA 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.

 

Popcorn via thefarmerslife.comA 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!

 

Check out Buzzfeed for 5 Fabulous Popcorn Recipes For An Oscars Party!

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Nice info! I eat popcorn literally every night, but honestly i have been a little freaked out by the GMO side of things and switched to organic, and bought some seed in hopes of growing my own this year. Do you know of any long term studies on this?
    Thanks,
    Phil

    1. Well there’s plenty of stuff about biotech to be found on this site. You might also check out my favorite ag science site biofortied.org.

      As far as popcorn goes there is no such thing as a GMO popcorn plant. There just isn’t any biotech seed on the market right now, and no plans for any that I know of at this time.

    1. I heard from a farmer friend that raises field corn for seed production that popcorn can really mess that process up, so buffers are needed. Popcorn plants produce much more pollen than most corn plants too.

      On the other hand popcorn is dent sterile meaning it won’t be affected by the pollen of normal corn. This is why we can grow popcorn right next to a dent or waxy corn field, even if that corn field is composed of biotech seeds.

  2. You took a journalism course somewhere along the way. You have a nice was of organizing and explaining in a succinct manner. I grew up in Vigo County, where the man who was to become the popcorn king, Orville Redenbacher, was once the county extension agent. It was an ad man who decided to go with the German pronunciation; his family, over in Clay County were the RED’-en-back-urs.

    Backcountry in Tennessee

    1. Thanks for the kind words! No journalism courses here. I had a couple of excellent high school English teachers though, and ENGL 420 Business Writing in college which I didn’t care for. 🙂

      There’s an Orville facility pretty close to us, but we’ve never grown for them yet.

  3. We put about 2% of our acreage into popcorn.(1 acre) rather small scale, but it is all hand picked and sold on the cob. Mostly as a novelty to getty people to come back, but at .50-.75c/cob, it is a bit of a money maker.
    We have had cross pollination issues before, but mostly with other ornamental(red) miniature popcorn. As a precaution, we usually try to keep our popcorn a mile or so away from our sweet corn and Indian corn. Even though studies show that corn pollen can travel several miles, our residential/urban landscape limits the pollen’s ability to travel that far.

    1. That’s a neat idea, and I’ll bet it does make good money! And here I’ve just been giving ears to people that visit! LOL

  4. This is neat, Brian, thanks! My family LOVES popcorn and it is great to see where it comes from and how it is different than growing regular corn. I’m going to show this to my daughter, she’ll find it so interesting!

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