Popcorn corn is a little different from regular corn. The most obvious difference is when the dried corn pops when heated in a popcorn machine or other device. Popcorn corn also has slightly different needs when it comes to growing and caring for it. With a little knowledge, you can grow and care for popcorn corn. In no time, you can harvest popcorn corn that you can cook and enjoy.
Part 1 of 3: Growing Popcorn
Step 1. Purchase fertile popcorn kernels
You can use ready-to-cook popcorn, but do a fertility test first. Not all popcorn that is ready to be cooked is in a fertile state because it has undergone a heating and sterilization process before being packaged and marketed. You can also buy popcorn kernels from a seed shop or from a farmer.
To test the fertility of store-bought popcorn: scatter 20 corn kernels, water, and wait. If within one week the corn turns out to be growing, it means that the popcorn seeds are fertile. If two weeks have passed and you still haven't seen any buds, it means that the popcorn kernels are infertile. Corn kernels must be fertile in order to grow
Step 2. Soak the corn kernels in warm water for 12 hours
The soaking will help moisten the corn so it germinates faster.
Step 3. Choose the right place
Make sure the spot is exposed to plenty of sun and well-drained soil. You will need a large space to plant the corn.
Do not plant other types of corn within 30 meters because of the risk of cross-pollination. Cross pollination will produce hybrid corn and this can affect the taste of the popcorn
Step 4. Plant the corn kernels when weather conditions permit
The best growing season is the rainy season, which is between October and March. A suitable soil temperature should be between 10 and 12 °C). Shoots will grow within 3 to 12 days.
- Give the distance between the seedlings as far as 20 to 25 cm. If corn is planted in rows, space between rows as far as 45 to 60 cm.
- Plant the corn 5 cm deep. After that bury it with earth.
- Insert 2 corn kernels into each hole. Only 75% of the seeds will successfully grow.
Step 5. Shrink the tillers once they reach 10 cm in height
Don't thin them out too quickly because not all of the chicks will survive. Rarely until the distance between seedlings ranges as far as 25 to 40 cm.
Part 2 of 3: Growing and Caring for Popcorn
Step 1. Water the corn often
Popcorn corn is always "thirst". This plant needs about 5 cm of water every week (depending on soil conditions) until the fruit is ready to be harvested. It will take about 100 days.
Step 2. Use a high nitrogen fertilizer (fertilizer 12-12-12) occasionally to promote growth
Spread fertilizer between rows of plants. Water it so that it absorbs into the soil. You do not need to fertilize the plant too often. Just two or three times in his lifetime. Here are the best times to fertilize plants:
- When the corn is about knee-high or has 8-10 leaves: apply 225 grams of fertilizer per 10 m².
- When the corns start to shed hair: apply 115 grams of fertilizer per 10 m².
- Add more fertilizer if: the leaves turn yellowish or pale, especially after the corn silk appears.
Step 3. Get rid of weeds
Weeds can damage popcorn corn by absorbing all the water and nutrients the plant needs to survive. To clear weeds, you'll need to rake the soil around the corn. Be careful not to damage the corn roots.
Step 4. Repel birds
You have to be alert from the time the corn begins to grow-or even before. Here are a few ways to keep corn away from these hairy thieves:
- Spread mulch around the plants. When the saplings start to grow, the birds will not be too interested in eating them anymore.
- Install the scarecrow.
- Place chicken wire cages over each row of tillers.
Step 5. Repel predatory animals
Rats are one of the predators who like to eat corn. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect corn from rat infestation:
- For a natural way, you can take advantage of rat predators such as cats, dogs, snakes, eagles, and owls.
- Clean and narrow the bunds to prevent mice from making nests.
- Set a mousetrap.
- Use a rodenticide.
- Use ultrasonic sound technology.
Step 6. Be careful with stem borers
This one pest attacks the stem. The stem borer will leave tiny holes filled with dust. The easiest way to get rid of it is by squeezing the corn stalks. The most effective way is to spray pesticides such as rotenone or Bacillus thuringiensis (BT).
Step 7. Watch out for cob caterpillars
As the name implies, the cob caterpillar attacks the corncob when the corn begins to grow hair. There are two ways to get rid of cob caterpillars:
- Before the corns turn brown, spray the tops of each cob with a pesticide such as: Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), pyrethrin, or rotenone.
- Once the corn kernels start to brown, apply a drop of mineral oil to each top of the cob.
Step 8. Support the corn stalks
As it grows taller, corn stalks need additional support. Mound the soil around the base of the plant to help it stand upright.
Part 3 of 3: Harvesting and Using Popcorn
Step 1. Corn will be ready to harvest after 85 to 120 days
Means about 3-4 months after the seeds are sown. The length of this time will depend on the corn species you are growing. Some species can be harvested faster than others.
Step 2. Allow the corn to dry on the stalks
If where you live is dry, let the corn dry on the tree. If at that time the rainy season begins to arrive, harvest it, then take it and dry it indoors.
Step 3. Harvest the corn when it is old
Corn husks will dry out and the seeds will be tough. Break the corn off the stalk, then peel the skin off.
Step 4. Store corn well for the next two months to dry
Put the peeled corn cobs into the sack. Store the sack in a dry, warm and well-ventilated place. You can also use nylon stockings and mesh bags to store corn.
Step 5. Dry the popcorn in the oven if desired
Preheat the oven to 150 °C. After that, place the popcorn on a large baking sheet, place it in the preheated oven, and immediately lower the temperature to the lowest setting. Turning occasionally while drying for five hours. After that, turn off the oven, remove the corn, and let it cool overnight.
Step 6. Do a test to see if the corn can be used as popcorn
Just strip a few corn kernels off the cob and place them in a hot skillet. Heat it in a little oil as if you were making popcorn. If it pops, it means that the corn can be used. If it sticks to the pan, it means the corn can't be cooked and needs to be dried longer.
- Make sure you choose the right planting season to give your corn enough time to age before the season turns to less than ideal conditions.
- Store the dried corn kernels in an airtight container and in a dry place.
- Remove weaker plants. The plant will not be strong enough to produce fruit, even to pollinate.
- Keep the soil conditions moist.
- Consider growing corn in groups, rather than in rows. Many farmers feel that this method will help pollinate.
- Try growing several varieties of popcorn corn. Popcorn corn has a variety of colors. The taste is the same, but the texture is different.