Growing popcorn takes extra time, attention to detail
Roughly 50 percent of the popcorn grown at Preferred Popcorn in Chapman is exported to places outside of the United States. The process of getting that popcorn from the fields to your hands is a long one.
"I grew up in the fields. Every morning every night, that's where I spent a lot of my time from the time I was 10 years old," Sam Krug, Manager at Preferred Popcorn, said.
For him, growing and selling popcorn is the only life he knows.
"It's a specialty crop. It takes more time. It takes more work. You got to have a lot more attention to detail. Because what you're growing is going to be on peoples tables all across the world," Krug said.
For generations, the Krug's have been growing popcorn and selling to more than 70 countries.
"It is not just an occupation for us; it's a labor of love," he said.
With only 16 popcorn producers in the U.S., Krug said it allows them to focus on the product itself, producing 200 million pounds of popcorn this year alone.
"200 million pounds is almost 4 billion servings of popcorn," Krug said.
But getting that popcorn from the fields to your hands takes a lot of work.
"There's different challenges every year to harvest," Krug said.
For instance, this year, it was the rain that slowed down harvest, other times it can just be the market not performing as well as they'd like.
"It can be stressful at times with the crop markets the way they are and even with really great yields, there's not going to be a lot of extra money this year. It can be hard, but I think it's a good life. I do hope that my boys want to do that someday," Andrew McHargue, popcorn grower said.
Krug said luckily, the cooler temperatures helped create even better popcorn this year, some of which he got to see on his trip to Japan with Governor Ricketts.
"And you go, 'man that's our popcorn that's in that plant that they're producing to send all over Japan.' It just floored you to think that something that you're doing right here in small town Chapman, Nebraska is going to end up all the way on the other side of the world," Krug said.