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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Other Common Names Include: Popcorn

Latin Name: Zea mays subspecies

Plant Family: Poaceae

Close Relatives: Field corn, sweet corn

Uses and Markets: Culinary (used for popping into snack food).  Ornamental (used for decorative and crafting purposes).

Ear popping corn in dryer.
AgronomicsProduction Life Cycle in Ontario


Hardiness Zone


Special Notes

General agronomic requirements of popping corn are similar to field corn.  For more information on corn production in Ontario, please refer to OMAFRA Agronomy Guide for Field Crops Publication 811.  Many varieties of popping corn are available.  Some varieties are hybrid selections and some are open pollinated varieties.  Many traditional popping corn varities are prone to lodging.  Hybrid varieties typically offer improved yields, decreased lodging, better popping expansion and uniform kernel maturity.  Different varieties are used for different popping methods (e.g. air popped vs. kettle corn).  Three main types of popping corn exist: White, small yellow, and large yellow. 

Propagation method


Greenhouse Seeding/Propagation Dates


Field Seeding Date:

Late April – early May

Field Transplanting Dates


In-row spacing

Seeding rate can range from 0-25% higher than field corn seeding rates, approximately 65 000-90 000 plants/ha.

Between row spacing

Similar to field corn (38-76 cm row spacings).

Optimal Soil temperature at planting

Germination and emergence will occur at >10°C.


Refer to the OMAFRA publication 811, Agronomy for Field Crops for fertility recommendations for field corn.

Soil type

Sandy and loam soils preferred.

Soil pH


Special requirements for growth habit


Optimal Temperature Range


Temperature sensitivity

Cold sensitive

Irrigation requirements

Irrigation usually not required.

Days to harvest

100-120 days

Specialized equipment:


Harvest Scheduling

Single Harvest

Hand harvest or machine harvest

Most commonly by machine harvest.  Use combine for kernels or ear pickers for full cobs.

Quality parameters/grades

No established grades.  Quality is determined by the market.  Common measures are used based on 10g weight of kernels. Large: 52-67 kernels/10 g; Medium: 68-75 kernels/10 g; Small:76-105 kernels/10 g.

Additional Harvest Notes


Post harvest
Special handling/curing

For kernels, harvest at 14-18% moisture.  Ear popping corn can be harvested at 18-25% moisture and dried down prior to shelling.  Condition popping corn to 13-14.5% moisture. 

Storage Conditions

Relative humidity (RH): 70%

Temperature: 0°C (for long term storage)

Air Exchange: N/A

Duration: 6 months or more

Specific pests observed on this crop in Ontario (observations based on limited experience with this crop)

See comments

Other Potential Pests: The following pests have not been observed on this crop in Ontario. However, they are either significant concerns for closely related plants in Ontario, or are reported on this crop in other production areas. This is not a comprehensive list of all potential pests. Not all of these pests will necessarily survive Ontario’s climate, but could potentially survive in a protected environment (e.g. greenhouse, storage facility).

See comments

*Indicates pests commonly mentioned as causing significant damage or economic loss to this crop in other regions. 


Most insect and disease pests of field corn are likely to affect popping corn, although susceptibilities may differ among varieties.  Corn pests that have been reported to be most destructive to popcorn include:  corn rootworms, European corn borer, fungal and bacterial stalk/root rots.  For a complete list of corn pests, refer to OMAFRA Publication 811, Agronomy Guide for Field Crops.

Popcorn, Zea mays var. everta,is in Crop Group 15:  Cereal Grains. For more information on Crop Groups, refer to the Pest section.  Not all pest control products registered on field or sweet corn are necessarily registered on popping corn so it is important to check product labels to verify that products can be applied to corn grown for popping.  Lists of products registered on field and sweet corn can be used as a guide for what labels to check. Pest control products registered on field corn are listed in OMAFRA Publication 812, Field Crop Protection Guide and products registered on sweet corn are listed in OMAFRA publication 838 Vegetable Crop Protection Guide.  Always refer to product labels, and follow all directions specified on the label, before applying any pest control product.  For more information, consult an OMAFRA specialist.

Additional Notes


Ontario Research Projects Used to Create This Profile


  1. Carter, P.R., Hicks, D.R., Doll, J.D., Schulte, E.E., Schuler, R. and B. Holmes.  1990.  Popcorn.  In: Alternative Field Crops Manual.  University of Wisconsin-Extension, Cooperative Extension.  Madison.
  2. OMAFRA. 2009. Agronomy Guide For Field Crops: Publication 811. Queen’s Printer for Ontario, Toronto.
  3. Ziegler, K.E., Ashman, P.B., White, G.M., and D.S. Wysong.  1985.  Popcorn Production and Marketing.  National Corn Handbook, NCH-5, Purdue University, West Lafayette.