How to Harvest Popcorn

If you have been gardening for any length of time, you are probably familiar with growing corn. If you have not raised it yourself, you surely know many people who have. However, you may not know anyone who has grown popcorn! If you want to be an adventurous gardener, growing and harvesting popcorn could be a lot of fun.


Growing Sweet Corn vs. Growing Popcorn

If the thought of planting popcorn seeds has you in a panic, rest assured that you have nothing to worry about. The process for growing popcorn is the same as for producing any other variety of corn.

Popcorn also has the same growing requirements as sweet or field corn. As long as you feed the corn with a good organic fertilizer, provide plenty of sunshine and water lots of water, your popcorn should thrive.

Harvesting Popcorn

The main difference between popcorn and other corn varieties has to do with harvest. For example, if you are growing a sweet corn variety, you harvest the ears as soon as they are ripe and eat them almost immediately. You leave field corn on the stalk until the silk turns brown and the corn does not dent, then collect the ears.

When you are harvesting popcorn, there are several different things you need to do:

  • Stop watering the popcorn plants when the ears stop growing, and the kernels start to get hard.
  • Leave the ears of corn on the stalk to dry as long as possible.
  • Cut the kernels off the corn and dry for several more weeks.

Tip: Many people dry the ear without cutting off the kernels. Drying them whole works just as well, although it may take longer.

When to Store Popcorn

Once you think the popcorn is dry enough, you can do a test-pop to be sure. Just put a few kernels in hot oil (or the microwave) and wait for it to pop. If the kernels do not pop within about three minutes, it is not dry enough. If this is the case, leave the popcorn to dry for a few more days.

Storing popcorn is much simpler than preserving any other type of corn. Just put it into an airtight container, and it will be ready to pop whenever you are ready to eat it!