If you love popcorn and always wondering what it takes to grow them at home, then worry less! Keep reading this post. The good news is, you don’t have to stay within a corn belt to grow popcorn. All you have to do is finding proper seeds, patience (lots of patience), and favorable conditions.
Home-grown popcorn are sweet and take the extra effort to produce them. Here is the procedure:
- Buy Fertile Popcorn Seeds
You can use some plain popcorn from a packet, but you’ll first perform some fertility tests. Not all bought popcorn seeds are fertile as the sterilization and heating process while packing them can lower their fertility. Also, you can source popcorn seeds from a farmer.
However, if you want to test the fertility of store-bought popcorn, sow about 20 seeds, water them then wait. When they grow in a week, you will know that they are fertile. If a fortnight pass and you still don’t see sprouts coming out, then the seeds aren’t fertile.
- Soak The Popcorn Kernels For 12 Hours In The Water
Doing this moistens the seeds to help them germinate faster.
- Select the Best Spot to Plant Them
Ensure that the position in which you will be growing the popcorn has soil that drains quickly and receives plenty of sunlight throughout. You must have an adequate space to plant the corns.
Furthermore, never plant within 100 feet of other kinds of corn as you might result in cross-pollination. This will lead to hybrids and can change the flavor of the popcorn.
- Make Sure You Plant the Kernels Immediately After Frost Danger Has Passed
This will depend on your locality. Frost is majorly experienced in early march to mid-May. Ensure that the soils where you will be growing the popcorn vary between 50 to 55 degrees Celsius. With this, expect the popcorn to start emerging out in 3 days.
As you plant the seeds, give them an eight to 10 inches spacing apart. When planting them in rows, do the row spacing 18 to 24 inches apart. Add only two seeds on each hole as only 75% of the seeds will germinate.
- Water Them Occasionally Then Apply Nitrogenous Fertilizer
Popcorn is always a thirsty plant that needs approximately 2 inches of water every week to grow ideally. Water them until they are ready to be harvested. This takes about 100 days. Spread the fertilizer between rows then water it properly to make it penetrate in the soil. You don’t have to fertilize the popcorns occasionally.
Here’s how to use fertilizer:
- Immediately the popcorn is about a knee-height or produces ten leaves, use about ½ pound in every 100 square feet.
- Once the ears develop silk, use a ¼ pound of fertilizer in every 100 square feet
- Top up more fertilizer when the leaves turn pale or yellow more so after they get silk.
- Check On the Weeds
Weeds are harmful and can damage the popcorn by using all the nutrients and water that the corns need for survival. Cultivate on the soil around the corn to get rid of weeds and be careful not to cut their roots.
Keep Off the Crows
You must be alert once the corn starts sprouting —or before.
Here’s what to do to keep the feathered crows away from the corns.
- Construct a scarecrow
- Position a chicken wire tunnel on each seedlings row,
- Develop mulches around the corns. Once the seedlings come up, the crows will get bored with them.
- Give The Stalks a Nice Support as you wait for the harvest.
Once the stalks start growing, you must give them enough support. Gather enough soil on their bases to support them and help them stand. The popcorns take about 120 days depending on the time you planted them, species, and the planting mechanism. Some species ripe faster than others.
Once the corns are ready, allow them to dry on their stalks. If you live in a rainy area, harvest the corns then take them in your store to finish drying.
How to Grow Popcorn Shoots
- Fresh popcorn less than three years old, not microwavable type and not popped
- Potting soil
- Flat casserole
- Kitchen shears
- Pre-Soak The Popcorn Seeds
If you want a perfect germination rate, start by pre-soaking the seeds for three days. Place about 3 cups of popcorn seeds on a dish then cover them adequately with water. Position the container in a cold place or place inside the fridge for 72 hours.
- Check Whether The Seeds Are Sprout
Immediately you see root nub sprouting in many popcorn seeds, and this indicates that they are ready for planting.
- Plant the Seeds
Begin by discarding or pouring off the soaking water. Empty four seed cups then mix it on a large mixing bowl. Top up enough water to the mixture to make it feel dampened. Add enough seed starting mix on a casserole dish to cover up to the bottom part of the dish approximately one inch deep.
Carefully smooth out the mix then spread the pre-sprouted popcorn on moistened seed starting mix then gently press the seeds on the mix. The seeds must be on top of the mix but don’t overcrowd them.
After that, cover the newly planted seeds using a transparent cover that’s provided with the casserole container. Adding a lid provides a moist and steady environment best for sprouting seeds. An excellent option for blanched shoots is covering the lid using a cloth. Some people prefer blanched yellow shoots.
Place all the popcorn on a brightly lit window then wait for some time. Frequently check on the container to make sure that the seeds are moist. If possible, water all the shoots using freshwater, and if you see mold developing, make sure you keep the lid off for 24 hours. This makes the seed starting mix surface to dry for a while.
In case your house stays dry throughout the winter season, mold should never be an issue. When you don’t fit the lid tightly on the container, the shoots can lift the lid as the popcorn grow. This will take approximately 14 days to do your harvesting. The shoots are 4 inches long when they are ready for harvest.
If you want to harvest the shoots, just cut each shoot on the lower side on the stalk. Immediately you pick them if you aren’t using the shoots immediately, dry all water from the shoots then wrap the shoots before you place them on a vegetable crisper or a container.
Enjoy the crisp fresh greens.
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