The state’s popcorn growers faced the same struggles in harvesting this fall as corn and soybean growers have endured over the past couple of months. Wet, cold weather delayed the harvest activity by about a month, but John Tiefenthaler of Snappy Popcorn in Breda says his company is pleased with the quality of the 2009 popcorn crop.
“Even if you have a lot of popcorn, you still want to be able to make sure it pops good,” Tiefenthaler says. “You can have a lot of popcorn, but if it’s not a good popper, it’s not good to anybody. But, so far, the quality and the yields seem to be pretty good.”
Popcorn tends to dry more quickly than field corn when it’s left standing in the field. “It’s been a little bit drier than the field,” Tiefenthaler says. “But it’s still is wetter, a lot wetter, than normal.” Tiefenthaler says his company is spending a lot of money on propane right now to dry the popcorn that has been harvested. It’s difficult in the fall to distinguish between popcorn and field corn, as the plants are the same golden color at harvest time.
But earlier in the year, Tiefenthaler says you’d be able to tell the difference. “Usually field corn is significantly taller than popcorn,” Tiefenthaler says. “Popcorn also tends to have droopier tassels when it’s green.”
The latest “Census of Agriculture” taken in 2007 ranked Iowa as the fifth-largest popcorn producing state, behind Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. State officials estimate nearly 90 farmers planted a little less than 9,000 acres with popcorn this season.
The Tiefenthaler family started Snappy Popcorn in 1940. John Tiefenthaler is part of the third generation of the family to enter the popcorn business.