Home Ground design How Farmers Design Corn Mazes – News & Stories

How Farmers Design Corn Mazes – News & Stories


“You don’t want a corn maze to be too simple, but you also don’t want it to take too long and people to panic,” said Dan Quinn, assistant professor of agronomy and corn specialist. extension. “It takes a lot of thought to make one. “

Mazes have an ancient history steeped in mysticism and mythology. The oldest known labyrinth, which dates back to the 5th century, was designed as a form of spiritual meditation for visitors to the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Amenemhat III. Many different denominations believe that walking mazes serve as a form of prayer and encourage spiritual transformation. Other labyrinths found throughout Europe have been used as a means of religious meditation, ritual, and entertainment. They were often found on the grounds of monasteries or royal estates.

Today, many Americans faithfully visit the corn mazes as part of their fall fun, a quintessentially American pastime, and squarely in the entertainment category. They are also a recent phenomenon. The first known corn maze created for entertainment dates back to 1993, located in Annville, Pennsylvania, and was designed to boost tourism to the area.

Maze mapping technology has come a long way since the fifth century, of course, as well as since the early ’90s.

Quinn said farmers traditionally cultivate a standard cornfield that is square or rectangular in shape and then walk around the maze, tracing the pattern as they go. GPS technology, however, has revolutionized this process, allowing the maze to be digitally rendered and traced accurately.

“Even with GPS, it’s a pretty laborious process,” Quinn added. “You keep going through the pattern a few times and figuring out where things need to be cut. “

Corn for mazes is cut when the growing point is above the surface of the soil, that is, at a certain height above the ground where if the plant is killed it will not resuscitate. The farmers mow the planned path, then cover the land with a tiller to make it passable.

Like regular corn harvested for grain, corn for mazes and agritourism is still sensitive to the challenges of the growing season.

“You need to have a good idea of ​​where in your maze there may be areas prone to wind or storm damage when designing the maze,” Quinn advised. “When you cut intricate patterns, if there has been a drought or severe disease, the stems are more likely to fall. I have seen farmers redesign their mazes often because of this problem.

Even though the main purpose of a corn maze is to attract people looking for fall thrills, Quinn said, farmers still like to keep the crop healthy. If people look at the corn, they want it to look good, and at the end of the corn maze season, they will still reap the field for any remaining kernels.

“There is no reason that corn cannot be used,” he continued. “If the harvest can be used to attract people to the farm and sell it later, usually for animal feed, it’s a win-win situation. “

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