AK Acres Popcorn Company
33297 Road 740
North Hwy 61
Imperial, NE 69033 USA

Tel: 308-882-5379
Fax: 308-882-4639






Growing Popcorn
A.K. Acres Popcorn Co. contracts all of its popcorn production in Southwest Nebraska and Northeast Colorado. The dry climate combined with warm days and cool nights makes this area of the United States an outstanding environment for the production of high quality popcorn. In addition, this land is located above a large underground aquifer which provides the popcorn crop with an abundant source of water. The fact that our production is 100% irrigated means a stable supply even in years of drought.
A. K. Acres Popcorn Co. selects popcorn varieties that are proven in our test plots and desired by our customers. Popcorn is planted anytime between April 20 and May 10. AK Acres monitors the growth of the popcorn throughout the growing season to ensure it is grown in accordance with our contract.

Harvesting Popcorn
Our procedure to eliminate foreign materials begins at harvest. Before the popcorn harvest begins farmers are required to thoroughly clean their trucks and combines. We also ask the farmers to make sure their equipment is in good working order and at the proper settings for harvesting popcorn. In addition, all of our dump pits, conveyors, elevator legs, and grain bins are thoroughly cleaned and inspected before harvest.
Popcorn is harvested anytime between September 20 and October 31. Popcorn is normally harvested with a moisture content of 14% to 17%. Popcorn harvested below 14% moisture may be too dry and may not pop well. Popcorn harvested above 17% may be too wet and may spoil when stored in our grain bins.

Samples are taken from every truckload of popcorn that is brought into AK Acres. This equates to approximately one sample for every 35,000 lbs of popcorn brought in. These samples are used in determining the moisture, the amount of foreign material, and the expansion of the popcorn. Expansion is a ratio that compares the number of cubic centimeters of popped popcorn to the number of grams of unpopped popcorn. For example, an expansion of 42:1 means that 1 gram of unpopped popcorn will produce approximately 42 cubic centimeters of popped popcorn. Farmers who are able to produce high expansion popcorn are given a bonus at the end of the year.

Storing Popcorn
Harvested popcorn is stored in the AK Acres' storage facilities where its moisture can be closely monitored. To ensure the highest quality popcorn, AK Acres' storage facilities are equipped with computer controlled aeration systems that continuously monitor the humidity and temperature of the air. These computers are programmed to turn large aeration fans on or off as necessary to keep the popcorn moisture at the optimum level. To ensure quality we primarily use natural air to dry the popcorn. Natural air-drying, as opposed to natural gas heat, preserves the seed coat integrity and the appearance of the popcorn for customer satisfaction and maximum expansion potential. In addition to monitoring moisture, all stored popcorn is continuously monitored by a professional insect & pest management service to prevent insect or pest infestations.

Processing Popcorn
After conditioning the popcorn to the correct moisture, the popcorn is processed using advanced milling and cleaning equipment. Foreign material, broken kernels, corncobs, and dirt are all removed in this process. The cleaning process is able to remove 99.999% of foreign material and broken kernels. There are four main machines used to remove foreign material and broken kernels from popcorn:

Screen Cleaner (Stage 1): This machine uses shaking screens and high powered blast fans to remove large pieces of foreign material like cobs, leaves, pieces of dirt and rock, and field corn as well as small pieces of foreign material like weed seeds, immature kernels, dust, and broken kernels. This machine is composed of two types of screens. The first screen has large holes that allow the popcorn to pass through while the second screen has small holes that allow the popcorn to pass over. When popcorn goes over the first screen it falls through the holes and moves to the second screen, however anything larger than the size of a popcorn kernel does not fall through the holes in the screen and is removed from the popcorn. After the popcorn falls through the first screen it lands on the second screen. When popcorn goes over the second screen it passes over the small holes, however anything smaller than the size of a popcorn kernel falls through the holes in the screen and is removed from the popcorn. In addition to the screens, large blast fans are used to blow chaff and dust out of the popcorn. This machine is able to remove approximately 98% of the foreign material and 90% of the broken kernels brought in at harvest.

Gravity Table (Stage 2): Unlike the screen cleaner which removes foreign material and broken kernels on the basis of size, the gravity table removes impurities on the basis of density. A gravity table uses high volume fans and a shaking perforated deck to suspend the popcorn above the deck on a cushion of air. The angle and shape of the deck causes the popcorn to move to different ends of the deck depending on the popcorn's density. Broken, cracked, and immature kernels move towards the back of the machine where they are removed while all of the good kernels move toward the front of the deck and exit the machine.

Destoner (Stage 3): A destoner is basically a smaller version of a gravity table. This machine uses the same concept of a fan and shaking perforated deck to suspend the popcorn on a cushion of air. The purpose of this machine however is to remove foreign objects that are very dense. Stones, clumps of dirt, and small pieces of metal all move towards the back of the machine where they are removed while all of the good kernels move toward the front of the deck and exist the machine.

Optical Color Sorter (Stage 4): A color sorter uses advanced high-resolution optics to visually inspect each kernel of popcorn as it flows through the machine. The color sorter is able to detect even the smallest piece of foreign material and the slightest defect in a kernel of popcorn. Upon detection, all foreign material and defective kernels are removed from the product stream by a quick burst of air. This final stage in our cleaning process ensures that only the best kernels of popcorn are packaged and shipped to our customers.

Packaging Popcorn
All of our popcorn is immediately packaged after it is processed. This ensures that the popcorn retains its moisture and does not come into contact with foreign material including insects. Our popcorn is packaged in 12.5 lb, 20 kg, and 50 lb bags. The 12.5 lb bag is made of a durable clear plastic and is closed using a heat sealer. The 20 kg and 50 lb bags come in three different types of material; 4-ply paper, woven poly, and paper-poly. The 4-ply paper bag is made using three layers of paper and one layer of plastic. The inner layer of plastic is used to keep moisture in the popcorn. The paper bag is the most attractive of the three types of bags however it is also the weakest. The woven poly bag is the strongest of the three types of bags and is made by tightly weaving together small strips of plastic. This bag also has an inner layer of plastic to keep in moisture. Lastly, the paper-poly bag is basically the combination of a paper bag and a poly bag. This bag has the appearance of a paper bag and the strength of a poly bag. This bag is made by compressing paper and plastic together into one material. This bag is a fairly new design and is quickly becoming popular. All of the 20 kg and 50 lb bags are closed using a high speed sewing machine.

Shipping Popcorn
AK Acres Popcorn Company has the capability to load trucks, containers, and rail cars. AK Acres has its own rail siding giving us the ability to bring hopper cars and box cars directly into our facility for loading. Because of this cost advantage, most of our exported popcorn is shipped to the coastal ports via train.

All outbound trucks, containers, and railcars are cleaned before loading. We also place a layer of paper on the floor of the trucks, containers, and railcars to keep our popcorn separated from anything that might get on the popcorn bags. To prevent insect or pest infestations outbound trucks, containers, and railcars are fumigated before they leave the facility.

Lastly, samples are taken from each shipment to verify the quality and purity of the shipment. If any questions or problems should arise we can go back to the sample to verify the type and quality of popcorn that was shipped.