Along with apple picking, pumpkin patches and hayrides, corn mazes have become a fall ritual across the country. In addition to being great fun for the whole family, these agricultural labyrinths also provide a good amount of extra income for local farmers. If you’re raising corn and want to find a new way to get people out to the farm, creating your own corn maze might be just the ticket for fall.
Preparation and Planting
Even though visitors won’t be expected for months, many corn mazes get their start as early as May, after the spring crop has been harvested and the field has been plowed. Before planting, it’s important to choose corn that’s best suited for growing later in the season in your climate. Depending on region, most corn mazes are planted from mid-June to mid-July, with crops often double planted to create thick walls that won’t be able to be seen through.
Design and Cutting
Once the corn reaches ankle height, it’s time to cut the initial design of the maze, which can range from simple to extremely complex depending on the size and scope of the design. Traditionally this was done by plotting out the design on a map and using posts, strings and a tape measure to mark the pathways. In recent years the agricultural global positioning system (GPS), already used to accurately plant row crops, has replaced strings and maps as the corn maze cutting guide of choice. Once a design has been drawn and entered into the GPS, all the farmer has to do is follow its directions using a zero-turn mower to make their maze. And for those who are more interested in growing crops than designing maize masterpieces, there are numerous companies that specialize in designing and plotting corn mazes for farmers, taking the guesswork out of coming up with a design customers will enjoy.
Marketing and Running Your Maze
Once the corn in your maze has reached around eight feet in height you’ll be ready to open for business and start generating income; but before you do so, take the time to market your maze. While signs and local word of mouth will bring in some customers, taking out newspaper ads, creating a website and social media pages and hanging flyers for your maze can go a long way in bringing in bigger crowds.
Once crowds do show up to your maze, be sure you have the staff in place to ensure a quality experience for them. Parking attendants, ticket takers and “rescue” personnel for those who get lost are essential for busy days, and to ensure your maze is a destination customers will want to return to year after year.
It’s also a good idea to set up games inside your corn maze that go beyond just finding the exit. Add checkpoints to engage customers throughout the maze and a drawing with prizes at the end for those who make it to all of them. You can also add trivia questions with clues or maps of the maze as prizes for getting them correct. And if you really want to impress your customers, several software programs are available allowing them use their smartphones to navigate the maze by answering trivia questions. A right answer will point them in the right direction, while a wrong answer will point them to a dead end.
Whether you have just a few acres or a few hundred, adding a corn maze to a portion of your farm is great way to increase your income and become more involved in your community. At United Country
Real Estate we specialize in uniting buyers and sellers of crop farms, farmland and all types of lifestyle real estate. Visit www.unitedcountry.com today to find your perfect property.