How Nebraska Pops

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Baseball games are in full swing, and movie theaters are full. Summer is the primary time for both, but did you know that Nebraska plays a major role in the ballpark and cinema experience?

Nebraska is the number one state for popcorn production, producing more than 295 million pounds of popcorn each year.

Growing popcorn in Nebraska makes sense as popcorn requires a low humidity environment which no other portion of the corn belt can provide. Nebraska also offers high quality soil and consistent moisture, provided by irrigation, which ensure a consistent and uniform sized kernel.

“Popcorn is an alternative crop with food value and gives farmers a different rotation along with an opportunity for income,” said Greg Senkbile, a Nebraska popcorn grower who has been raising popcorn since 1996. “It’s been a great fit.”

There are a few small differences in raising popcorn, it is largely the same as growing field corn although popcorn is a completely different variety of corn.

The growing cycle is very similar to field corn, and farmers can use the same planters, harvesters and other equipment. Popcorn tends to be a shorter season than field corn, normally planted after and harvested prior between 100 and 105 days.

Farmers deliver their popcorn kernels to a popcorn plant following harvest. As with field corn, farmers are rewarded for the quality of popcorn kernels they produce. The ideal popcorn is between 15 to 17 percent moisture at harvest.

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– Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter growing up on a cow/calf and grain farm in Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University, majoring in both animal science and public relations. She has been involved with agriculture from birth, working in multiple facets of the industry including the USDA and Extension. Kassi relocated to Nebraska in 2010 to work for a marketing communications agency for a multitude of agriculture clients.

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