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Indiana Farm Finds Profit With Popcorn
One farm in Northwest Indiana has transitioned from growing feed corn to feeding moviegoers with premium popcorn.
Current owner Harvey Gutwein’s great-grandfather used the 9,000-acre property to grow corn for milling into cornmeal starting in 1906. The property switched to seed corn in 1936.
In 1998, Gutwein experimented by planting several hundred acres of popcorn. As other family members dropped out of farming, Gutwein was able to expand his popcorn production.
The farm currently produces about 50 million pounds of popcorn each year. Most is distributed wholesale to packers that sell it under a variety of brand names across the United States and Asia. Some is used by local movie theatres as well as high school and professional sports teams, including the Indianapolis Colts. What’s left is sold under the Gutwein Popcorn brand name online as well as in regional retail locations.
The farm specializes in three types of popcorn - butterfly, mushroom, and standard white. Butterfly kernels form “wings” when popped and is a popular choice for microwave popcorn, while mushroom kernels form the classic caramel corn rounded shape.
After harvest, the kernels are run through a processing plant to remove dirt and debris before going into storage.   
All popcorn kernels must be stored where they can maintain about 14 percent moisture. It’s the pressure buildup from steam within the kernels that eventually causes them to pop. If they dry out, they likely won’t pop.
The farm relies on moisture sensors on its grain bins to maintain kernel quality. The bin sensors activate fans that either bring in or take out moisture based on ambient conditions. Care is taken to keep the kernels from scratching, as this creates an exit point for the steam and prevents popping.
At present, the farm is managed primarily by family members. The work itself is fairly automated. Within the packing space, the farm uses an automatic bagger and a robot to stack all the popcorn after bagging.
Connect with Gutwein popcorn for wholesale orders or to purchase products to try at home through the company website.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gutwein Popcorn, 3215 S 1450 W, Francesville, Ind. 47946 (ph 800-488-9346; www.gutwein-popcorn.mybigcommerce.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #2