In a very near-future (as in, assume no spectacular technological advances or changes to society) post-apocalyptic situation, would a group of survivors scavenging a store after all of the fresh produce has rotted away (and the frozen produce has joined it due to lack of power) be able to use the kernels of corn for popping to grow new corn or is something done to it in processing it for use in making popcorn that renders it no longer viable as a seed. (Or, for that matter, is popping corn one of those hybrid strains that do not produce viable seeds in the first place. It's okay if seeds don't produce popping corn, as long as they produce some kind of corn.)

Bonus: If regular popping corn, the kind intended to be used in popcorn poppers, pots on the stove, etc., is still viable, can the same be said for the kernels inside unused microwave popcorn bags? (If, for example, the store the survivors were searching was just a convenience store, and not a supermarket, so their selection was considerably more limited.)

Note: this question is not asking if popping corn is a viable source of nutrition, as that deserves to be its own question. (After all, at the very least, it should provide the survivors with a source of carbs and/or animal feed, so long as they can actually grow it in the first place.)

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    $\begingroup$ I think you'll find this is close to a duplicate question (with answers) on a sister site $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Feb 10 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ I am not currently a member of that site, so I was unaware of the existing question. Thank you for directing me there. $\endgroup$ – Cadrac Feb 10 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ This doesn't directly answer your question, but it might also be useful to your story to know that without farmers, corn as we know it would cease to exist in a few years. It's been modified from maize to such an extent that it can not survive on its own in the wild. The seeds (kernals) are packed too dense to each other and too close to the tall stalks, the competition for light and space is non-viable. Popcorn would be your ONLY option for growing new corn, since it wouldn't be in the fields anymore. $\endgroup$ – CaptainSkyfish Feb 10 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ This was closed as story based? Seriously? It is a simple question with a clear answer that affects the setting of a story. It seems like an ideal fit for this place. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Feb 10 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @StarfishPrime . The fact that a question can be answered somewhere else doesn't mean it doesn't fit here. Not every question has to be speculative biology or alternate history; this is a clear scenario set within a fictional world that is specific and well-reasoned. Can someone please explain why this was closed as story-based? Voting to re-open. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Feb 11 at 0:04

It will depend on the variety of popcorn and the prep method.

Some varieties will by hybrid that won't breed true. Depending on the specifics of that, you could get a sad little bit of corn in the next generation that has about 3 kernels on each cob. It may be that you can plant several generations and get something useful out of this. Or it may be that it won't produce a second or third generation.

Other varieties will be less hybridized and will breed true or nearly so.

I have not tried this with popping corn. But I have tried it with sweet corn. Some varieties will just not germinate. Some will germinate and produce truly sad looking corn in the first generation. This is why seed companies are able to stay in business.

Some types of popcorn will have chemicals on them that prevent germination. These are the chemicals that allow the kernels to stay in those pop-in-bag things for a year or two. If you get the kind that just comes as a jar of kernels with no butter or other stuff on them, you will have better luck.

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The reason why certain variety of corns are used for popping is in the specific properties of the seed (you need a proper shell permeability and a proper humidity of the core to pop it).

All the rest is perfectly viable for general purposes nutrition.

You might have additional risks due to the limited genetic variety, but that's applicable with any industrial seed in a non intensive agriculture scenario.

As a kid I planted some unpopped pop corns in my garden, and they gave regular corn in due time.

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  • $\begingroup$ I noted in my question that I specifically was not asking about the nutritional usefulness of the popping corn, but whether the kernels available on a shelf store were still viable seeds for growing more. (i.e. Can survivors use them to create an ongoing supply or are they no longer able to be planted.) $\endgroup$ – Cadrac Feb 10 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for adding the planting information. Can't get any more definitive than "I did it and it worked." $\endgroup$ – Cadrac Feb 10 at 14:54

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