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CULTIVATION

Cultivation

For popcorn to grown to its best it needs rich soil. The corn is planted in checkrows, these are rows that intersect at right (90-degree) angles, it is planted this way so that it can be harvested by the machine. When the ears are ripe, the corn is harvested with either a machine picker that removes first removes the ears and leaves the stalks temporarily. Alternatively with a combine that crushes the corn stalks, and mechanically removes the ears and the husks the corn. The ears are then collected in the field in boxes and transported into steel cribs using mechanical elevators or conveyors.

Once harvested the ears are dried in cribs that are narrow and are designed with open slots to minimize the time needed to dry them. Some cribs can be as high as a three stories high building, or as long as a big city block. When filled they contain up to 1.8 million kg of corn.

Once in their cribs, the ears are then stored for eight to 12 months in order for them to dry. Another method of drying involves hot air which is forced up into the cribs through holes in the bottoms of the big storage cribs. This process cuts down the time for drying them. While in the cribs, the corn is carefully stored until the kernels attain a moisture content of 12.5-13.5% moisture, which is ideal for its popping characteristics.

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