growing-popcorn

Learn How to Grow Your Own Popcorn

Popcorn is easily one of the most popular snack foods in the country. You can buy it in microwaveable bags, as just the seeds to use in your air popper, or even already popped. Plain popcorn, caramel popcorn, even cheddar popcorn-the possibilities are endless. What you might not know is that with minimal gardening skills, you can grow popcorn in your own backyard!

Planting Popcorn

Planting popcorn is no different than planting your favorite sweet corn variety, although popcorn seeds do not look the same as typical corn seeds. Instead, they look like unpopped popcorn kernels!

There are many different varieties of popcorn seeds, and which type you grow will depend on both personal preference and the growing zone in which you live. If you live in an area with short summers, you should choose a type designed for a shorter growing season.

If you have an average growing season length, you should purchase seeds that require about 100 days to mature. Some of these include:

  • Top Pop, with yellow kernels
  • Strawberry, with red kernels.
  • Cutie-Pops, with multi-colored kernels.

Tip: Most gardeners recommend soaking your popcorn seeds in water overnight before planting. Doing so softens the shell to hasten germination.

Growing Popcorn

Popcorn requires the same growing conditions as any other type of corn, whether sweet corn or field corn. Ample room to grow, plenty of water, and an abundance of sunshine are the three primary requirements for producing popcorn.

Of course, you also need to control the weeds and be on the lookout for pests and diseases. You should also apply a nitrogen-only fertilizer about midway through the growing season. However, if you know how to grow sweet corn in your garden, you will know how to grow popcorn.

Harvesting Popcorn

The big difference between fresh corn and popcorn is the process of harvesting. With sweet corn, you harvest it as soon as it ripens and eat it fresh. Popcorn, on the other hand, has to be left on the stalks to dry out.

You should leave the popcorn on the stalk as long as possible to dry it adequately. The husks should be dry and brittle, and the kernels should be hard. If there is a stretch of wet weather in the forecast, be sure to bring your popcorn ears indoors to finish drying.

Every few days, shell a few kernels off the cob and try to pop it. If the popcorn pops, it is dry enough! You can then shell the rest of the kernels and store them in airtight containers.

Once you have learned how to grow your popcorn, you may never again be content with a microwave bag!