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Illinois Farm Families Blog

Jun 28 2013

Popcorn Farmer

Popcorn Fun

In 2005, I married the first farmer I’d ever met and moved to the first farm I’d ever seen.   Eight years later, it seems I made the right choice!  And not just because my husband is a wonderful man…because marrying this farmer also meant an endless supply of POPCORN!  Bonus!

Although I can now carry on a conversation about the science of popcorn, it wasn’t always easy.  When we met, I thought popcorn was just corn that you pop!  My husband had quite a chuckle when I called everyone I could think of to tell them I’d just learned that popcorn is an entirely separate crop!

We live in Mason County, which (fun fact!) is the #1 producer of popcorn in the world.  One of the main reasons popcorn is such a popular crop in our area is that our soil is extremely sandy, as evidenced in the photo below of our backyard.

Popcorn is considered a “specialty crop” and although sandy soil is not an optimal choice for growing most crops, popcorn companies like it because it is irrigated and, therefore, the amount of water it receives can be carefully controlled.  We still need regular rains from Mother Nature but irrigation allows us to grow crops in a soil type that would be mostly un-farmable otherwise.  

Another fun fact: You know the old saying that a corn crop is great if it’s “knee-high by the 4th of July?”  Not true.  It’s more like knee high by the 4th of June.  Here is a photo of me standing in front of our corn on the 4th of July last year.  To give you some perspective, I am 5’8.

Last fun fact: If you are ever driving past a farm and wonder whether the corn is popcorn or field corn (corn that is used in livestock feed, ethanol, alcohol, etc.), there is an easy way to tell.  When field corn grows tassels (the yellow feathery pieces at the top of each stalk), the tassels typically stand straight up.  Popcorn tassels are more floppy and hang over to the sides, like in the photo above.

A final note, for those of you concerned with GMOs vs. non-GMOs.  Popcorn, by nature, is NOT genetically modified.  

 

Lauren Shissler

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