Science of popcorn among 16 topics at this year's UI Agronomy Day

Science of popcorn among 16 topics at this year's UI Agronomy Day

SAVOY — You may know popcorn is Illinois' official snack food, but do you have any idea what makes the kernels pop?

The science behind popcorn is one of the topics being presented at this year's University of Illinois Agronomy Day, set for Thursday in Savoy.

A collaborative field day hosted by the Department of Crop Sciences along with several departments in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Economic Sciences, the event is free and open to the public.

Advance registration isn't required, but you'll have to get up early if you plan to attend the event, which will run from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4202 S. First St., Savoy.

This year's Agronomy Day will be set up in a series of "tours" — each in different tents that will host unique presentations.

In addition to popcorn science, some of the 16 topics being covered in various tents will be two different presentations on the use of drones, controlling corn and soybean costs, managing the evolution of herbicide resistance, updates on seedling diseases in Illinois soybeans and evaluating management strategies for western corn rootworm.

The keynote speaker will be Chris Harbourt, an engineer, entrepreneur, cofounder of Agrible and a managing partner with Hatch Ag Group. Harbourt will speak about his vision of the future of crop production and agronomic services.

Crop Sciences Professor Anthony Studer, who launched a popcorn breeding program at the UI, will be speaking about the science behind popcorn.

"A lot of people don't realize popcorn is corn," he said.

Popcorn can be grown anywhere field corn is grown, and that includes Champaign County — though this county isn't the largest popcorn producer, Studer said.

Some facts about popcorn from Studer and the program book:

— Moisture content and kernel structure and composition are factors behind what makes popcorn pop.

— Popcorn became Illinois' official snack food in 2003.

— Popcorn is harvested at a different moisture content than field corn is, and popcorn yields are reported in pounds per acre, rather than in bushels.

If you go

What: UI Agronomy Day.

When: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday.

Where: 4202 S. First St., between Curtis and Old Church roads in Savoy.