1983 - Volume #7, Issue #2, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Popcorn Silage: Grow Corn And Still Join PIKSome Midwest farmers are getting around corn acreage reduction requirements in 1983 farm programs by planting popcorn.
According to rulings by the ASCS, "Popcorn will not be included as corn in determining whether or not a farm has complied with permitted acreage in the 1983 Acreage Reduction Program."
That means farmers can grow unlimited acres of popcorn for silage, or even as a feed grain, even if they're full participants in the acreage reduction and PIK programs. Popcorn cannot, of course, be planted on acres set aside from feed grain production but it could be legally planted on land intended for soybeans or small grains.
What kind of crop is popcorn?
"Popcorn silage has a feeding value roughly equal to that of silage made from dent corn, and it yields about 70% as much," says Bob Lungren of Mid-Plain Sales Co., Lake View, Iowa, a company promoting popcorn as a way to get around government restrictions. Lungren says university agronomists back nutritional claims for popcorn. In fact, feed grain tables show popcorn is higher in protein and several other digestible nutrients.
Lungren points out that planting popcorn for silage is not a new idea. "In 1963, farmers also discovered this loophole in the government programs. Articles in farm publications urged them to use it as a silage but warned them to be prepared to prove that the corn would pop if they were ever challenged. As long as it pops it's not considered corn.
"The cost of growing popcorn is comparable to dent corn. We recommend a planting rate of 8 to 10 lbs. per acre for a plant population of approximately 24,000 to 30,000 plants per acre. The fertilizer rate is approximately three-fourths of that needed for dent corn. Most plateless planters can be used to plant it and, due to the popcorn kernel having a hard outer coat, it can be planted earlier than field corn without deterioration in the ground or being damaged by cold, wet weather. Popcorn is also more tolerant to drouth than regular dent corn. Popcorn yields in excess of 90 bu. per acre have been obtained in many areas of the corn belt," says Lungren.
Popcorn seed is packaged in 50 lb. bags and is priced at $1.75 per pound. Mid-Plain Sales Corporation's seed is a mixed variety that produces a mixed blend with no value on the commercial popcorn market.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mid-Plain Sales Corp., P.O. Box 146, Lake View, Iowa 51450 (ph 712 657-8585).
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