Allergies on the Farm

July 31, 2023 11:18 am

As I look at my Wunderground (weather) App for the daily or extended forecast, there’s a feature I ignore almost entirely—the “Air Quality Index.”  As we enter this first week of August, it’s a great opportunity to consider what has been in the air above our #AwesomePopcorn here on #PilotKnobFarm.

The biggest thing has been the smell.  It smells not good, but not bad.  Sort of earthy but not sweet, heavier but not overbearing and more evident when the air is heavier with humidity.  I don’t have the proper adjectives to describe it if you haven’t lived in corn country.  It’s corn (and POPCORN) pollen. 

Now allergies just were never on my radar growing up on the farm.  I remember as a kid getting some strange needle test where they had lots of weird looking lego-like blocks with quasi-needles that a nurse applied in a grid on my back to determine if I had allergies.  My luck, I didn’t!  Well, actually I sort of did, I learned many years later—when Mom jokingly said it must have been 1990’s style child-abuse—that I was mildly allergic to corn pollen and smut. 

My Dad bluntly stated, “We’re a farm family,” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯so that was that and we didn’t consider all the bubble-wrap necessary to address it at that point and it worked out (I wouldn’t recommend this approach today as the testing is better!).  Ironically, I later had a crop scouting business before we had children where I would walk fields during the summer for area farmers.  I provided a service where I monitored the crop and made recommendations on managing pests like corn rootworm beetles or Gray Leaf Spot disease for example.  I spent many, many HOT days—a few north of 110 heat index—covered in corn pollen, often emerging from fields with a cheese dust appearance (and the face of a wilted flower).  Would’ve been nice to know this bit of medical history from my youth before I took that role!

Now in my mid-thirties with two little farmers of my own who both “seem” to have allergies, though mild, it’s more on my mind.  Life on the farm brings fresh air for sure—which is why I’ve never cared about the “Air Quality Index” since we don’t worry about pollutants or emissions prevalent in urban areas.  But it also brings pollen.  Now that is a truly, wonderful thing for the farmer. 

A heavy pollen drop is indicative of a good crop…but it reeks havoc on the lungs of our local, allergic neighbors.  And it’s not just corn.  When I walk into fields, there are pesky weeds that always manage to escape our most sincere efforts at eradication (queue up Jeff Goldblum’s quote from Jurassic Park) that drop LOTS of pollen.  The worst is Giant Ragweed. 

Believe it or not, there is a website that monitors pollen forecasts.  If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re one of over 67 million Americans.  

So, what to do? has a good list of things to help with allergies, here’s a few from their list:

  • Set air conditioners to recirculate, rather than bring in new air (and pollen) constantly.
  • Pollen count is highest between 5am – 10am, so limit outside exposure outside this timeframe.
    • Wash your face and hands after you’ve been outside to remove pollen.

For our part, we hope y’all don’t get too upset about the corn pollen at least.  Our #RusticRed popcorn pollinated very well earlier this month and is well on it’s way to a good yield. 

Recognizing the allergies some of you may have, how about a little something from our family farm to dampen the pollen onset?  For the next two weeks, we’ll offer our new, custom seasoning at a 25% discount per unit.  It’s our “Cheesy Dust” so it reminds me of those long, hot summer days when I was bombarded and covered with corn pollen…but instead of hating the heat, this stuff plain tastes awesome.

Use Code CHEESY25 and check out all the #AwesomePopcorn and gear from our store here