Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Popcorn Harvest!

Harvest has officially started on our farm! We just began and finished our popcorn harvest this last week and now are moving on to soybeans and dryland corn. This year we only grew one pivot (150 acres) of popcorn, so it only took about two days to harvest. Popcorn harvest isn't any different than harvesting other crops since we use the same equipment. However, we do have to make sure the equipment is clean and free of any debris. Since our popcorn is a food grade crop, which goes to the consumer to eat, we have to make sure that we do not contaminate the popcorn with anything, such as dirt and other grains. This means we have to clean out all the trucks, grain cart, and combine to insure the equipment is free from any of this.

While the popcorn is being harvested, it can be transported and stored at an elevator that accepts popcorn or stored on the farm for a short period of time. We opt to store our popcorn in a grain bin until January. The reason for this is due to the fact that we contract our popcorn to ConAgra, which has their popcorn facility located in Hamburg, Iowa. This allows us to continue harvesting the crop without having to stop and transport the popcorn to a plant that is over two hours away.

When we do haul our popcorn to the processing plant, they will first check the popcorn to make sure it is free of any debris and that the moisture of the popcorn is under 15. If it has any debris, or the moisture is over 15, the elevator will charge a fee to the farmer since it is not the best quality. So that is why it is very important that farmers be cautious when harvesting the popcorn to make sure other grains and dirt do not get mixed in with the popcorn. After they have check the popcorn, we dump it and then the popcorn goes through a cleaning process and then gets prepared to be shipped out to movie theaters and homes!

Listed below are some pictures of popcorn harvest taking place. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to help this year due to me being in college. So my family farm's hired hand took the pictures for me!

Close up picture of the combine in action. The corn head (front part of the combine) strips the ears off the plant and then goes through the machine and gets shelled.

After the kernels get shelled from the cob, they go into the grain tank.

We dump the popcorn into a truck that dumps into an auger, where the auger then transfers the popcorn into the grain bin.

When the combine grain tank gets full of popcorn, we unload it into the grain cart. The grain cart then ushers the popcorn to the trucks.

Popcorn is being harvested so that movie goers can enjoy a snack at their next movie!
If you are interested in the growing process of popcorn, be sure to check out my previous blogs by clicking here!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

From the Field to the Movie Theater: September Popcorn Update

Wow, it is hard to believe how fast the summer has gone! Seems like we were just planting the popcorn crop yesterday and now we are getting closer to harvesting it! Yet, I think many farmers are anxious to get their crops out of the field and move on to another growing year that hopefully won't include a drought. It seemed like no one could catch a rain this last summer or get a break from temperatures that ranged from the low 90's into triple digits. Although it was a very dry and hot summer, some crops look fairly decent considering the conditions we faced. Almost all of the irrigated crops look really good while most of the dryland crops looks tough.

So now for the latest update on the popcorn! Unfortunately we didn't receive much rain in August, which meant we had to continue to irrigate the popcorn. However, we didn't have to irrigate the popcorn the entire month of August since the popcorn plants started to dry down and reached their full maturity. When I say the plant started to "dry down", I mean that the plant starts turning a brown color and stops absorbing moisture from the ground. While the plant is starting to dry down, so are the corn kernels. The popcorn kernels start to turn from a light yellow color to a darker yellow color. This is a sign that the popcorn is getting closer to being ready for harvest. Our popcorn will most likely be getting harvested within the next couple of weeks. Usually our popcorn crop is ready before any of our other crops. I will be sure to post a "Popcorn Harvest" blog when we begin the harvest process!

Below are the current pictures of the popcorn crop!

Just a month ago the leaves were a green color and now they have turned to a light brown color. This is part of the drying down process.

An ear that will be ready to be harvested within another week!

Even the tassels dry out.

The size of the plant hasn't changed much since my last blog. However, it's amazing at how fast a popcorn plant can dry down within a month.

One of the ears I picked on the end of the field. Makes a person wonder how big the ears are as you get further into the field.

The cob!

These are what a person will find in the bottom of their popcorn back (the ones that don't pop).

If you would like to see my previous popcorn updates, click here!