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!