If you’ve followed the story of the kids’ popcorn stand, you know the planting of the popcorn has been a chore. The farm boy and farm princess have insisted on planting their crop by hand, because it is their crop and they make the decisions for their crop. Precisely the attitude of responsibility My Farmer and I are happy to support except when we have to participate. It’s the part of parenting that causes moms and dads to wonder why they mandated a household rule or set a high standard. Our words must be supported by action. Oy.
Regardless, every year the popcorn has been planted . . . sometimes replanted . . . by hand. For the last two years, I know I have been a loud proponent for using the farm equipment that makes us effective, efficient grain farmers. Why not use the planter in the popcorn patch?!
This year, the kids consented only because they increased the size of the patch yet again. Grandpa arrived at the farm about 6:30 a.m. and began planting the end rows of the corn field that surrounds the house. When he pulled up to the section that is reserved for popcorn, he and the kids got to work.
First they needed to clean the planter rows of the commercial corn seeds.
Then we crossed our fingers and hoped the popcorn seeds would fit on the seed wheel. As I described in The Anatomy of A Planter, air pressure forces seeds through the planter, holds them to the seed plate and then releases them to the ground. But no amount of air will keep a small seed on the plate. Farmers who plant popcorn on a large scale will have plates that are designed for the smaller seed. The kids’ have not reached that status yet.
We carefully put a handful of popcorn seeds in each planter box. Then came the true test. Grandpa and the farm boy decided driving slowly (approximately 1 mph. We usually plant corn at 5 mph.) and decreasing air pressure would be the best bet. Ironically, with all the computer technology that runs our equipment these days, it didn’t help with this. Driving so slowly did not engage the computer system, which normally tells the farmer which rows are planting, at what space the seeds are dropping, the depth of planting and if a row unit has run out of seed. So, we had to check for ourselves.
Grandpa planted maybe 25 feet when he stopped and we started digging for seeds.
We found them!
At this time we also checked the depth and decided to adjust the planter so the seeds would land at around 1.5 inches.
As Grandpa drove, the kids walked through the rows stopping to dig for seeds. “Got one!” “They’re here!” the farm princess exclaimed. She sounded surprised and very relieved.
An hour later, the popcorn was in the ground. We cleaned the planter again so Grandpa could continue with commercial corn.
Now the waiting begins for those first sprouts to ‘pop’ through the ground.