How to grow popcorn?

How to Grow Corn for Popcorn

Plant rows 12″ apart. Since good ear development depends on good pollination, put in four or more adjacent rows. If you don’t have room for several rows, plant in hills. Typically, only about 75% of the seeds germinate, so put two kernels in each hole and space the holes 7″ apart. Thin later so that the best sprouts are 15″ apart. For hills, plant six kernels per hill, thinning to three after they sprout. To avoid damaging roots of adjoining plants, thin by cutting rather than pulling.

If you plan to save your own seed, isolate popcorn from other kinds of corn (including other varieties of popcorn) to avoid cross-pollination. You can isolate varieties by planting them 500 feet apart or by staggering plantings so stalks tassel at least two weeks apart. You should know, too, that your popcorn patch can interfere with someone’s nearby sweet corn, so plant your corn where it won’t start neighborhood feuds.

Cultivation of Corn

Since corn doesn’t grow well in competition with weeds, either keep weeds hoed back (taking care not to damage tender corn roots) or mulch heavily. If rainfall doesn’t provide 1″ of water per week, particularly when stalks begin to tassel, water by flooding the ground rather than by using overhead sprinklers; you don’t want to wash away the pollen. Apply compost or other nitrogen fertilizer when sprouts are 6″ high and again when they reach knee height.

Two enemy pests of corn are corn borers and earworms. Borers attack stalks, kicking “sawdust” out through small holes. If you find one at work, destroy it by squeezing the stalk; otherwise, apply the biological pesticides rotenone or Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). Earworms typically attack ear tips when stalks begin to tassel. Deal with them by sprinkling the tip of each ear with rotenone, BT, or pyrethrin before silks wither and begin to brown. After silks turn brown, apply a drop of mineral oil to the top of each ear.

Unfortunately there are two animals that love popcorn as much as humans do: crows and raccoons. Crows go after young sprouts—pulling them up as fast as they peep through the soil to get at the sweet kernel below. One solution, of course, is to put a scarecrow on the job. Another is to mulch your corn patch so that, by the time sprouts poke through the mulch, the seed kernels will have lost their sweet appeal. If you plant in hills, a third crow deterrent is to set up a tepee of three sticks at the center of each hill.

Raccoons go after corn ears just as they’re starting to ripen. An electric fence will keep them out. Sprinkling a little hot pepper on the silk of each ear will slow them down. Turning a flood light on the corn patch, or piping radio sounds to it, send the nocturnal raiders scurrying for a more sensible garden. The Native American practice of planting pumpkins among corn also discourages masked bandits—some theorize that raccoons don’t like the prickly stems, others say the big pumpkin leaves prevent them from looking around while they’re busy munching fresh ears. Who cares the reason, so long as it works.

Pollination

Typically, one to two ears will grow on each corn stalk, but they will develop a full set of kernels only if pollination is complete. Every corn plant has both male and female flowers. The male flowers are the tassels at the top of the stalks. The female flowers are the ears. The silk on the ears must be pollinated by the tassels in order for the corn kernels to develop. Each pollinated strand of silk represents one kernel on the cob.

To ensure good pollination, after tassels open to display their yellow pollen, walk along on a calm morning and shake stalks to make the tassels release their bounty. If you prefer a more precise method, shake pollen from several tassels into a bucket or large paper bag. Transfer the pollen into an easier-to-handle smaller bag and sprinkle a little onto each silky ear. Ensure complete pollination by repeating the process on three different days.

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If you plan to save seed to plant next year, but nearby corn crops interfere with your own seed crop, protect ears with waxed bags and hand-pollinate them. In his fine book Saving Seeds (Storey Publishing; 1990), Marc Rogers recommends this procedure for hand pollination: When the tassels at the top of the plants develop pollen, cut one off. Remove the bag from an ear and rub the tassel on the silk. Continue on to other bagged ears until the tassel runs low on pollen. Cut another tassel and continue until all bagged ears have been pollinated.

After the silk turns brown, remove the bags and identify the hand-pollinated ears by tying pieces of colorful yarn around them so they won’t accidentally get popped for eating. Save at least a dozen ears in this manner, so you’ll have plenty of choice in selecting the best seed to plant next year. Since corn kernels do not store well, grow a fresh batch of seed each year.

Harvesting Corn

Leave corn drying on the stalks until the first hard frost threatens. When frost approaches, or if the weather is too damp, bring the ears of corn in and dry them under cover by stripping back the husks and tying a few together in a bunch. When the weather cooperates, dry ears right on the stalks and pick them when the husks have partially dried and turn brown. Kernels are ready for storage when they can easily be twisted or rubbed from the cob.

Shelling popcorn can be hard on your hands. Most people grasp a cob and twist the kernels loose. Those same people complain about all of the blisters they got from doing this. I find it easier to rub them off with my thumbs, starting at the large end of the ear. Another trick is to rub two ears against each other to break kernels loose from the cobs. No matter which shelling method you prefer, toss out immature kernels near the tip of the ear.

Popcorn Pow-Wow

The Native Americans developed many ingenious ways to pop corn. One was to skewer an ear on a stick, roast it over an open fire, and gather up kernels that flew away from the flames. Another method was to clear away an area of soil made hot by a fire, then toss on some kernels. A third method was to heat a clay bowl lined with coarse sand, stir kernels in when the sand got hot, and eat those that popped to the surface.

Today corn is popped in an electric popper, in a heavy pan on the stove, or in the microwave—with or without oil. Dry-popped corn contains virtually no fat. Popped in oil, each cup contains about one gram of fat. If you grew up on corn popped in oil, as I did, dry-popped corn tastes flat.

Despite all the corn popping appliances I’ve been given over the years, I still prefer the stove-top method I learned from my mother. I fondly remember how she used to pop me a big bag of corn to enjoy at school. The popcorn was great, but I soon grew tired of being mobbed by classmates at recess. Mom also popped a batch every week right before “Maverick” came on TV. One week she was busy and forgot. When Maverick’s theme song started, the whole family turned in unison to ask, “Where’s the popcorn?”

To pop corn on the stove, you need a heavy saucepan with a loose fitting lid that lets steam escape. Heat the saucepan on a burner and add ¼ cup of oil— preferably one that’s low in saturated fats, such as corn oil or sunflower oil. (Don’t add salt to the oil or your corn will be tough.) Heat the oil to between 400°F and 460°F, where corn pops best. Oil burns at 500°F. If it smokes, it’s too hot. Don’t use butter—it will burn for sure.

Test the temperature of the oil by tossing in a few kernels. The oil is ready when the kernels pop. Pour in enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan (if you add more than one layer, the expanding corn will pop the lid right off the pan). Two tablespoons of kernels make about one quart of popcorn. Shake the pan to keep kernels from burning and to coat each with oil. Your corn is done when the explosive sounds peak.

Even though I love stove-top popcorn, I think the Native Americans were onto something by popping it over an open fire. Fireplace (or campfire) popping makes the tastiest corn, although it also toasts you and wears out your popping arm.

You’ll need a long-handled metal basket, available at old-fashioned hardware stores and modern fireplace accessory boutiques. Put ¼ to 1/3 cup of kernels into the basket. Hold the basket over the flame, high enough so the kernels won’t burn before they pop, and shake the handle to keep the kernels moving inside the basket. It’s nice to have a partner who’ll take turns while you cool off and rest your arm.

If you can’t find a long-handled popper, you can pop corn over a campfire using heavy aluminum foil. Tear the foil into 12″ squares, one per serving. On each square, place one teaspoon of oil and one tablespoon of kernels. Bring the four corners of each square together at the center and twist them to form a loosely sealed packet. Leave the packets on a hot grill until the popping sound slows.

Corn can also be popped, Native American-style, right on the cob—something like roasting a hot dog. Some kernels will pop into the flames and be lost, some will pop away from the fire, and some will stick to the cob. As charming as it may be to pop corn this way, corn popped on the cob is usually not as tender as corn popped off the cob.

Why Popcorn Pops

What makes corn pop? Popcorn kernels contain at least 14% water. Under heat, the water expands into steam, causing the starchy interior of the kernel to explode. When moisture in the kernel falls below 12%, you get duds, old maids, or spinsters—those unopened and partially opened kernels that rattle your jawbone and crack your teeth. Good popcorn should yield less than 2% spinsters. Microwave popcorn is dryer than other corn and usually has more spinsters than average. To avoid dried-out kernels, store popcorn in an airtight jar or plastic bag in a cool place. Avoid storing it in the refrigerator—the dry air in a refrigerator causes kernels to dry out quickly.

If you get a batch of corn that’s too dry to pop, rejuvenate it by putting it into a jar and adding a little water. Screw on the lid and shake the jar occasionally until all of the water is absorbed. After two or three days, pop a batch. If you still get too many duds, add a little more water and try again.

As good as popcorn tastes, the surprising thing is that it’s also good for you. It consists chiefly of complex carbohydrates. One cup contains only about 30 calories (add another 100 if you drizzle butter on it). Among the infamous food groups, popcorn qualifies as a cereal grain. Thanks to its hulls, it contains about one gram of dietary fiber. In fiber content, popcorn rivals bran flakes and whole-wheat toast— but it’s a whole lot more fun to eat.

Pop-Happy

Since the proof of the popping is in the eating, it’s no wonder popcorn is so popular. Each of us pops down 60 quarts per year. Are you popping your fair share?

Nacho-Cheese Popcorn

The American Popcorn Association (401 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611) distributes imaginative recipes from Caramel Nut Crunch to Popcorn Peanut Soup. Here’s one of my favorites:

1/3 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup popping corn
3 to 4 dried chilies
3 tablespoons hot oil
1 clove garlic, quartered
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm oil, chilies, garlic, and cumin seed for three minutes; strain. Pop corn in three tablespoons of seasoned oil. Pour remaining oil over popped corn and toss to season. Combine Parmesan, paprika, and salt Toss with popped corn. Yield: 2½ quarts

Herbed Mustard Butter

The Popcorn Lover’s Book (Contemporary Books, 1983) by popcorn mavens Sue Spitler and Nao Hauser, contains over unique 100 serving ideas. This 90-page book includes seven different kinds of flavored butter recipes such as this one:

3 to 4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

Melt butter in a small saucepan; stir in remaining ingredients. Toss with popped corn. Yield: ¼ cup

Oriental Popcorn Mix

For this recipe, also from The Popcorn Lover’s Book, Spitler and Hauser recommend popping the corn in sesame oil to give it a slightly nutty taste that goes well with soy sauce and 5-spice powder.

6 cups popped corn
3 tablespoons butter/margarine
5 ounces chow meim noodles
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup cashews
½ teaspoon 5-spice powder

In a large bowl, combine popped corn, chow mein noodles, and cashews. In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in soy sauce and 5-spice powder. Toss with corn and noodles. Yield: 9 cups

How to Plant Corn Seeds

  1. Pick a spot to plant your corn. Corn is a warm season crop requiring lots of sunshine. The optimum soil temperature is between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 32 degrees Celsius), but can be as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
  2. Turn over the soil to a depth 6 inches (15.2 centimeters) with a plow or a spade, breaking up any clods.
  3. Rake the soil flat.
  4. Put fertilizer on the ground.
  5. Dig rows of 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) deep furrows and sow the corn 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 centimeters) apart. The rows should be 24 to 32 inches (61 to 81 centimeters) apart.
  6. Keep the soil moist. You don’t have to water corn everyday, only when you feel the soil getting dry.
  7. Make sure the soil has the proper nutrients. You can buy a testing kit which will help you determine what fertilizer to use.
  8. Harvest your corn when the ears are completely full and the silk surrounding the kernels is brown and crisp. To check if it’s ripe without picking it, pull back the husk a bit and see if the kernels are full and yellow. If the corn’s not ripe, leave it a few more days. Pick your corn by pulling the ears down while twisting them. This way the stalk won’t break.

Growing, Harvesting and Storing Popcorn

Popcorn is currently one of America’s favorite snack foods. However, it has been cultivated for several thousand years. Popcorn is one of the oldest types of corn with some types dating back to 3600 BC. There are two types of popcorn, pearl and rice. Pearl types have smooth and rounded kernels, while rice types have more elongated kernels. In addition to the variation in kernel shape, popcorn varieties are available in red, pink, blue, yellow, and multi-colored ears.

Popcorn is grown for its tasty, exploding seed. Heating the kernel converts the moisture inside the kernel to steam and turns the seed inside out. The quality of the end product depends on the conditions during growing, harvest, and storage.

Growing

Several different varieties are available to home gardeners. Be sure to select a variety that will mature in your area. Sow seed directly in the garden in spring in several short rows. This ensures good pollination. Thin as recommended on label directions. Do not plant sweet corn in the same garden with popcorn. The quality of the sweet corn will be reduced if it is cross-pollinated by popcorn.

Water, fertilize, and weed regularly. Any serious stress like water deficiency can greatly reduce yields and the quality of the popcorn.

Harvest

Allow the kernels to dry in the field as long as possible. When harvested, the kernels should be hard and the husks completely dry.

After harvest, remove the husks and place the ears in mesh bags and hang in a warm, dry, well-ventilated location. The ideal moisture content for popcorn is between 13 and 14%. Once or twice a week, shell a few kernels and try popping them. When the test kernels are popping well and tasting good, shell and store the rest of the kernels. If the popcorn is “chewy” or the popped kernels are jagged, it is too wet and needs to continue drying.

Storage

Store the kernels in sealed, airtight containers. If stored properly, popcorn should retain its popping quality for several years. Unshelled corn should be stored at temperatures near 32F and high relative humidity. The storage location should also be rodent proof.

If stored popcorn fails to pop, it may be too dry. Add 1 tablespoon of water to a quart of popcorn. Cover and shake at frequent intervals until the popcorn has absorbed the water. After 3 or 4 days, test pop a few kernels to see if it is ready. Add more water and repeat the process until the popcorn pops well.

Below is a listing of a few varieties of popcorn that are readily available. Kernel color, height, maturity times, and source are included.

Variety Kernel color Height Maturity time Source
Cutie Pops Multi-colored 6 feet 100 days Stokes Seed Inc.
Mini Blue Dark blue 6 feet 100 days Harris Seeds
Mini Pink Pink – purple 6 feet 105 days Harris Seeds
Robust Yellow 8 feet 112 days Johnny’s Select
Ruby Red Dark red 8 feet 110 days Johnny’s Select
Shaman’s Blue Purplish blue 7 feet 112 days Johnny’s Select
Strawberry Dark red 4 feet 100 days Stokes Seed Inc.
Tom Thumb Yellow 3 feet 85 days Johnny’s Select
Top Pop Yellow 6 feet 100 days Harris Seeds

This article originally appeared in the July 21, 2000 issue, pp. 91-92.

The history of popcorn in the Americas is very old, with the oldest samples of popcorn found in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico dated at about 4,000 years old. According to the Popcorn Board, an organization of U.S. popcorn processors, it’s thought that the first use of wild and early-cultivated corn in the Americas was for popping. Popcorn was important to Aztec Indian ceremonies and an important food for them, too.

Of course the unique feature of popcorn, is it’s exploding seed. Moisture in the kernel is converted to steam when heated, causing the seed to explode and turn itself inside out. Popcorn is considered a whole grain, full of complex carbohydrates and fiber, and if you don’t add too much butter, is a very healthy snack food. A lightly buttered cup of popcorn only contains 80 calories!

Many varieties of popcorn are available for the home garden, including some with fun kernel colors like red and dark blue, along with the more common white and yellow. Ear size is also quite variable, from 2 to 3 inches long for ‘Strawberry’ popcorn to 7.5 inches for ‘Robust 128-YH’ hybrid popcorn. Popcorn seed is available from many garden centers, or through mail order companies such as Park Seed, Burpee, Seed, Stokes Seed or Harris Seed.

Harvest

For the best results with home-grown popcorn, allow the ears to mature on the stalk as long as possible. Pick the ears after the stalks are brown and dry, but before frost. The husks will be dry and the kernels hard.

Curing

Remove the husks from the ears, then cure them for two to three weeks by putting them in a mesh onion bag, an old nylon stocking or a bag made from nylon net or cheesecloth. Hang them in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. A heated basement or attic works well.

After a couple weeks, test a few kernels for popping quality. Popping problems usually indicate the corn is either too dry or too wet. Dry corn tends to pop partially or not at all. If the corn is too dry, remove the kernels from the ears then add moisture as described below.

Wet corn pops slowly with a loud noise, the kernels are small and tough with a “chewy” texture and jagged look. There will also be a lot of steam coming out of the popper. If your popcorn is still too wet, allow it to cure a few more weeks then test it again.

When properly cured, your popcorn should have a good taste and pop well.

Storage

When you’re satisfied the ears are cured, rub one ear against another to remove the kernels. Pour the kernels into quart glass jars so the jars are three-quarters filled and seal them tightly. Store the jars in the refrigerator if there is room or in some other spot that provides low temperatures to retain popping quality.

Properly cured and stored popcorn should retain its popping quality and flavor for three to four years. After that, it may develop a slightly stale or rancid taste, and popping quality may fall off.

However, if your storage conditions are not ideal popping problems may develop during storage. Again, moisture content of the kernels is the probable cause.

If your popcorn is too dry, add one tablespoon of water per quart, seal and shake well twice a day for a couple of days. If a test popping shows the corn is still too dry, repeat the treatment.

If your popcorn is too moist, spread it out on a pan and let it until a few test kernels are dry and popping well again. Avoid oven or rapid drying since this can reduce popping quality.

October National Popcorn Poppin’ Month

For more than 30 years, October has been celebrated as National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, but in 1999 it was made official by then Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman. For more information, history and fun facts about popcorn, visit Popcorn.org.

Harvesting and curing popcorn is a simple process that should be done in mid fall, after your first frost but before snow or rain settle in.

We love growing our own popcorn! There are lots of reasons for that including self sufficiency and just over all taste (of the home grown popcorn)! Learning to grow popcorn is easy to do. If you would like to learn more about growing popcorn in your garden take a look at this post.

Recently I filmed this 5 Minute Friday Video tip on Curing popcorn. Be sure to watch it as well.

When to Harvest Your Popcorn

Harvest time for popcorn usually comes very late in the summer or early in the fall. I like to wait until the husks on the cobs have completely “yellowed” and are nice and dry. You can also feel the cobs. The corn under the husks should be hard and dry before you harvest.

I try to leave the cobs on the stalks for as long as possible. The longer that corn dries outside and on the stalk the better. But there is a happy medium that you need to reach. Let the cobs dry on the stalks as long as you can, but bring them in before your weather really turns wet. You don’t want those cobs that have been drying for all that time to then get rained on or snowed on. We have found that usually, we need to harvest our popcorn by the middle of October in our Zone 6 garden.

Curing Popcorn Indoors

As I described in the video above, curing popcorn in a really simple process that mainly involves a nice dry airy spot and lots of time!

I prefer curing popcorn indoors. It is easier to control the process of curing popcorn if you do it in a shed, garage or even your basement. A good spot for curing popcorn is somewhere dry with good air circulation. And it is vital that your popcorn does not get wet while it is curing. That’s why I just do it inside in my garage. No chance of rain or frost getting on the curing popcorn if it is indoors.

Lots of time is the Key

Remove the husks on the popcorn before curing. You can either pull it off completely or if you would like a nice fall time decoration for your house, carefully pull the husks back but leave them attached to the cob.

Place the curing popcorn on a screen for good air circulation. Or tie bunches of cobs by the husks and hang them.

Then all you need to do is wait! I’ve found that it takes between 4 to 6 weeks for popcorn to cure correctly after harvest.

Once you think your popcorn has cured, scrape a tablespoon or so off of one of your cobs pop it using your preferred method. (We use an air popper). If most of the kernels pop then you are good to go! If you have more than just a few kernels that don’t pop, then wait another week or so and try again!

We like to remove the popcorn from the cobs all at once and store it in glass jars. But you can store the popcorn on the cobs if you like and remove it as needed.

If you would like to learn my trick for removing the popcorn from the cobs, go check out this video and post.

Store the jars or cured cobs in a dark dry pantry, DO NOT store your popcorn in the freezer!

Grow Your Own Popcorn

If you can’t locate any fertile commercial popcorn — and don’t know any growers who might be willing to donate (or swap something for) seeds — you can always buy from a seed company. In states that grow a lot of corn, just contact the farmers who serve as local seed-corn agents. These people often sell popcorn as well as sweet and field corn, and will sometimes even give out free packets of this seed in order to promote their other brands.

Popcorn varieties are available in a range of colors that include off-white, light gold, deep gold, deep maroon and black. There are also “calico” varieties, which have two or more colors on each ear. All of these corns have their own distinct tastes and “popped” appearances … so get a trade arrangement going with your gardener friends: There’s bound to be one type of popcorn that’s just right for you.

Look for mail-order seeds in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Seed and Plant Finder.

Planting Your Homegrown Popcorn

Once you’ve located fertile seeds, you are ready to grow your own popcorn. Plant the seeds exactly the same as you would sweet corn (soak the kernels for 12 hours before planting, then set them 1 to 1-½ inches deep and 8 to 10 inches apart). Keep the patch weed-free, and, when the stalks are knee-high, heap up soil around the exposed roots to give the plants additional support … they’ll shoot up like magic.

Harvesting Popcorn for Drying

After 85 to 120 days (the time varies from species to species), the popcorn will be mature. At this point, you’ll have to decide whether to use your oven or the sun to dry the kernels.

In areas where the autumn is relatively free from rain, corn can simply be dried on the stalks after it ripens. A “pop test” will let you know when the process is complete. Just cook a few kernels as you normally would … if the corn pops poorly and sticks to the pan, you’ll know it needs to “sun” for a while longer.

I have a neighbor who husks his ears of popcorn and then dries them in a wheelbarrow. He just pushes the load out into the sunshine on warm days, and shifts the ears around often to assure even drying.

Popcorn stored on the ears takes up a lot more space, however, than do loose kernels. I’ve found that the quickest way to process a good harvest is to husk and shell the ears after they’ve stalk-dried for two months and then — setting aside some seed for next year’s crop — oven-dry the kernels to perfection (hand-shelling, it’s true, is a slow and often painful process … but you can still find small, old-timey corn shellers at farm auctions and such for around $5.00. Or, if you have a large “modern” sheller — and a lot of popcorn — it might be worth your while to get out the tractor and pulleys to do the job).

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To oven-dry your shelled popcorn, just preheat the stove to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and put a large pan (a turkey roaster will do) of kernels on the rack. Then, turn the oven down to its lowest setting immediately, and dry the corn — stirring it occasionally — for five hours. After that time you can turn the heat off and leave the kernels in the oven to cool overnight. They’ll be “poppin’ perfect” by morning.

(It is possible to dry corn too thoroughly, though. I forgot to turn my preheated oven down, once, and returned a little later to a house that smelled suspiciously like cooked corn. The kernels were so dry that they wouldn’t pop at all! But, I just sprinkled the popcorn with a little water, put it in a tight-lidded bucket, and left the closed container in the fridge for a week. The remoistened corn popped just fine.)

No matter how carefully you husk and shell your corn, a few crinkled silks — as well as some chaff and cob residue — will get mixed in with the kernels. This refuse can cause the popped corn to scorch, so it’s best to clean each batch before you store it. All you have to do is pour the popcorn, slowly, from one bucket to another … and let the wind (or an electric fan) carry away the debris.

Make Your Own Popcorn

Once your corn is shelled, dried and cleaned, it’s ready to store. Kernels that haven’t been oven-dried should be kept in a freezer, because they might harbor insect eggs which could hatch if left at room temperature. Heat-dried corn, on the other hand, will store well in a sealed jar on the shelf (corn seems to pop better when it’s chilled, though, so I always keep some in a container in my refrigerator … ready to be poured right into the pan).

Most any kind of cooking oil or shortening — even bacon grease — is fine for poppin’ corn. Some of these enhance the flavor of the popcorn, too, so experiment until you find the oil that best suits your palate.

And, while there’s nothing wrong with plain salted popcorn, you can add different toppings to turn your corn into something special. Dribble some molasses on the popped kernels, for instance, or stir a little honey into a bowl of hot, buttered corn. Brown sugar and butter-melted together and mixed into a container of popcorn will produce a delicious homemade caramel corn. Most cookbooks contain recipes for popcorn balls and similar goodies.

These treats will please your family, of course, and will also make great gifts to say “thank you” for the kind of everyday favors that good neighbors do for each other. You can send gaily decorated jars of unpopped kernels to your “city cousins” for Christmas or birthdays, too, and be sure that the present will be enjoyed for a long time to come.

And, best of all, many folks will gladly pay much more than the supermarket price for fresh, locally grown popcorn. So work up that weedy patch on your farmstead (or in your yard), put in a few rows, and get ready to earn some extra cash. Don’t worry about expensive packaging, either … small plastic bags of popcorn, closed with twist-ties, seem to sell as rapidly as do kernels packed in fancy labeled jars (do be sure to heat-dry any corn that you plan to market, however … customers who suddenly find their shelves weevil-ridden won’t be eager to buy from you again!).

Grow your own popcorn, and treat yourself to the best popcorn there is.

It’s also a good idea to offer whole dried ears of popcorn for sale (especially if you grow one of the colorful varieties). Lots of people will buy these to use as seasonal decorations … and shell the cobs for poppin’ later.

But, whether you raise popcorn for yourself, to give as gifts or to bring in needed money, you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy the whole experience … from plot to pan.

Growing Your Own Popcorn

What has a hard shell, a soft and starchy heart that explodes when heated, and tastes great with a generous drizzle of melted butter and a sprinkle of salt? It must be that wild grass called popcorn. If you love popcorn and ever wondered what it would take to grow your own, keep reading. The good news is you don’t have to live in the Corn Belt to grow it. All you do need is the proper seed, favorable conditions, and patience—lots of patience. Home-grown popcorn tastes delicious and makes the extra effort worth it.

Popcorn Basics

Not all corn pops, so variety matters. Popcorn is a special variety of corn, the scientific name being Zea mays everta, and is one of four main types of corn, with dent, flint, and sweet rounding out the list. The kernels have two shapes: the more elongated rice shape and the rounder pearl shape.

Check your favorite vegetable seed sources for their selection of popcorns, taking into account your growing season length and amount of space available. Many popcorns grow 8 to 9 feet tall and produce 7-inch-long ears, although there are some popcorn offerings that run to miniature sizes, with 4-foot stalks and 3-inch ears.

Popcorn takes longer to mature, too, generally between 90 and 120 days. Like other corns, popcorns dislike cold soil and won’t germinate well, which means is best to wait until the soil warms to at least 60º F.

Planting Popcorn

Because corn is wind-pollinated, it pays to plant in blocks of four rows, following the sowing instructions for depth and spacing. Compared to other corn, popcorn is slower to germinate, taking about 10 days to shoot up, and slower to grow. Corn is a heavy feeder of nutrients, which means an initial round of nitrogen-rich fertilizer when the seeds are planted will help establish the plants, followed by another side application of fertilizer when the plants are about a foot tall.

If you want to grow another type of corn, such as sweet corn, keep in mind that wind-pollinated trait. In a small garden, the varieties will cross-pollinate and the popcorn will not attain its maximum yield. Recommendations vary from growing only popcorn to isolating the rows of popcorn by as much distance as possible. If a garden is located near commercial cornfields, it may be impossible to avoid the pollen drift.

Keeping Your Popcorn Pest- and Disease-Free

Popcorn is susceptible to the usual varmints and diseases of other corns, and the same methods can be used to mitigate those problems. Crop rotation can help with troubles like corn smut and corn borers by moving the rows of corn far from the previous year’s location. As for raccoons, well, good luck distracting them from convenient snacks.

If the plants survive to their maturation date, the ears can be left on the stalk to dry, although this isn’t great if raccoons are plaguing the plants. A light frost only hurts immature ears, although a hard freeze can affect the popping rate of drying kernels, depending on the amount of moisture remaining inside.

Harvesting Popcorn

To avoid those particular pitfalls, harvest the mature ears and husk them. The ears need to dry, either by spreading them on a clean surface or hanging the ears in a mesh bag in a space with good air circulation.

How do you know the popcorn is dry enough? The amount of moisture inside a kernel for a perfect pop falls between 13 and 14 percent, but that’s not something you can test on the kitchen counter.

The best way is to scrape some kernels off the cob and heat them in the microwave or hot-air popper. A perfect pop will be light and crunchy. A partial pop or one that’s tough to chew indicates too much moisture, and then it’s back to waiting a few more days.

Prepping for Popping

Once a test indicates the popcorn is ready, kernels can be popped right on the cob by placing it inside a paper bag and cooking it in the microwave. But you can remove the kernels from the cob first. Just use your thumbs to push the kernels free into a container. Clean garden gloves with added grip in the fingertips such as rubber or nitrile will protect the skin and give extra leverage.

Store dried kernels in an airtight container to keep the popcorn from losing too much moisture. When the craving comes, add two tablespoons of kernels and use your favorite method for popping!

Once you serve up your homegrown popcorn at your next movie night, you and your family might never want store-bought again!

Read to Garden By The Moon? When is a good time to plant corn? Find out here!

Growing Popcorn – Popcorn Growing Conditions And How To Grow Popcorn

Most of us love to eat it but did you know that in addition to buying it from the store, you can actually enjoy growing popcorn in the garden? Popcorn is not only a fun and tasty crop to grow in the garden, but it will also store for several months after harvesting. Keep reading to learn more about popcorn plant info and how to grow popcorn in your own garden.

Popcorn Plant Info

Popcorn (Zea mays var. everta) is a Native American plant grown for its tasty, exploding kernels. The two types of popcorn that are grown are pearl and rice. Pearl popcorn has round kernels, while rice popcorn kernels are elongated.

Growing popcorn and sweet corn in the same garden produces disappointing results because of cross pollination. Cross pollination yields popcorn with a high percentage of unpopped kernels and poor quality sweet corn. Popcorn matures 100 days or so after planting. Each ear yields one serving of popcorn, and each plant produces one or two ears.

So where can you find popcorn plants? Popcorn doesn’t transplant well, so it is mostly grown from seeds planted directly in the garden. There are numerous seed varieties to choose from and most garden

centers carry them. You can also order popcorn from reputable seed companies, and your local extension office can offer advice on those that perform well in your area.

Popcorn Growing Conditions

Popcorn needs full sun and rich, well-drained soil. Work a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost into the soil before planting, and spread 1 ½ pounds of 16-16-8 fertilizer over the soil, watering it in thoroughly. Choose a location with access to irrigation because just like other corn plants, popcorn plants require plenty of water during the growing season.

Grow popcorn plants in groups to ensure good pollination and well-filled ears. A single plant produces ears with few or no kernels and a few plants produce ears that are poorly filled out. Most home gardeners grow popcorn in several short rows.

How to Grow Popcorn

Plant popcorn when all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Sow the seeds 1 to 2 inches deep and space them 8 to 10 inches apart. Rather than planting them in one or two long rows, create a series of short rows spaced 18 to 24 inches apart. The plant density assures good pollination.

Drought stress seriously impacts the quality of the harvest, so keep the soil moist at all times. Popcorn needs 1 ½ to 2 inches of water per week from either rain or irrigation.

Popcorn needs an abundance of nitrogen during the growing season. When the plants have eight to 10 leaves, side-dress with ½ pound of high-nitrogen fertilizer per 100 square feet. Spread the fertilizer down the sides of the rows and water it in. Side-dress again with ¼ pound of fertilizer once the ears form silk.

Weeds compete with popcorn for nutrients and moisture. Cultivate the soil around the plants regularly to eliminate weeds. Take care not to damage the roots or pull the soil away from the plants while cultivating.

Harvest popcorn when the husks are completely dry and the kernels are hard. Remove the husks after harvest and hang the ears in mesh bags in a well-ventilated area. After removing the kernels from the ears, store them in air-tight containers at room temperature.

Now that you know more about popcorn growing conditions, you can begin growing popcorn in your garden for continued enjoyment of this tasty treat.

Have you ever wondered where popcorn comes from? When I was a kid, I used to think that I could dry out the corn kernels from my summertime corn-on-the-cob and use them to make popcorn. When I finally got the guts to dry out the kernels and pop them, they burned and got stuck to the bottom of the pan.

As it turns out, the corn that we typically eat is different than the kernels that become popcorn. There’s only one variety of maize that will make it – Zea mays everta. Though it looks like a typical corn kernel, this particular variety is the only one that has the ability to pop and turn into a delicious snack.

  • Brief History of Popcorn

    Archaeologists have discovered that people have known about popcorn for thousands of years. In Mexico, for example, they’ve found remnants of popcorn that dates to around 3600 BC! Many historians even believe that popcorn is the first corn that humans even knew about.

    Even though common folklore indicates that the Native Americans showed the settlers how to make popcorn, there’s no evidence to substantiate that. One thing is certain, though – it became a popular treat during the Great Depression because it was so inexpensive. People all over the world have been eating it regularly ever since.

  • Strains of Popcorn

    There are several popular varieties of maize that are cultivated in the United States. However, only one of them, the Zae mays everta variety, will actually pop. Though this may seem limited, there are about one hundred different strains of this corn and each of them vary according to flavor, texture, and how they pop.

    For example, one strain of popcorn pops up into a snowflake pattern and another looks like a mushroom. Caramel popcorn manufacturers usually use the mushroom style popcorn because it’s denser and maintains its texture during the process. Snowflake-style popcorn, however, is the most popular for snacking.

  • Growing Popcorn Kernels

    The United States is the world’s biggest producer of popcorn. It typically grows in states like Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. One acre of land uses almost 30,000 seeds. Once the plant is fully mature, the corn is picked and fed through a combine, which removes the kernels from the cob. These kernels are then dried in a special container, which optimizes the moisture level for popping. The kernel needs to maintain around a 14% moisture level in order for it to pop. This particular variety of maize easily turns into popcorn because of this moisture level.

  • Popping Popcorn

    Once the popcorn kernels have dried, they’re ready to pop! In order for them to do so, they need around 400 – 600 Degrees Fahrenheit. There are a few methods to do this including air popping and microwaving. When the kernel is heated, the moisture inside the kernel turns to steam, which creates enough pressure for the starch to burst. The pressure is so intense that the kernel actually turns inside out. After that, all that’s left is for you to season and enjoy!

Zea Mays Seed

Company Details

About the Company

Legal Status of FirmPrivate Limited Company Nature of BusinessManufacturer IndiaMART Member SinceFeb 2014

Dr. Linnfield Laboratories is the first company in India to obtain license From Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India to manufacture and Sell Organic Fertilizer (Vermicompost)under Essential Commodities Act 1955 and Fertilizer Control Order 1985. Dr. Linnfield Laboratories is manufacturing Fertimine Enriched Organic Fertilizer completely from herbs and green vegetation. Fertimine is composite of all essential microbes like Azotobacter, Phosphate Solublizing Bacteria, Rhizobium, Actinomycetes, Nitrobacterium, Algae and all the essential microbes along with all the nutrients.

Fertimine is a better replacement of all the phosphate fertilizers specially Di-Ammonium Phosphate. Fertimine gives much better results than DAP in lesser quantity then DAP. All the phosphate fertilizers essentially contains Uranium which are extremely harmful for agriculture, environment and every life form.

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