It’s September and what is left of Summer is disappearing fast…and, faster. You can feel Fall in the air and that means that farmers are starting to put their fields in order for next year’s planting. Some local farmers have planted corn for the sole purpose of cutting elaborate mazes into their fields for your enjoyment ( and, perhaps their amusement) and their fields have recently become ready for use.
Developing a corn maze is a three step process and requires patience, diligence, precision and, of course, LAND-at least 3 acres of it. The most common approach is to plant a variety of corn that grows tall enough and thick enough to make a good barrier and provide 6-8 weeks of fun. The corn is planted much later than corn for harvest since it needs to be ready for cutting and shaping later in the season. In the Upper Valley, that means planting in June for use in September and October. The corn is planted closer together than “harvesting corn” so that it will provide a barrier thick enough to deter visitors from trying to cut through- there is a temptation to do that when you cannot see the end in sight!
Once the corn is planted, the planning process begins. Technology has allowed the practice of mazing ( new verb!) to become much more sophisticated- many intricate designs that were too time consuming to even consider are now a reality. The corn maze is cut out using a Global Positioning System ( GPS) . The design is created utilizing computer software that has the global positioning of each corner of the maze entered and information about the design you want to create. The computer will create a blueprint for the design. The cutting begins when the stalks are 18-24 inches high- mowing above the growing point prevents the corn from growing back while the uncut corn continues to grow to to a height of 8-9 ft. Some farmers use a tractor with a GPS installed to do the initial cutting, while others use a self propelled mower and a handheld GPS to get the job done.
There are three basic corn maze adventures: daytime mazes, nighttime mazes and haunted mazes and we have several available in close proximity to the Upper Valley. Depending on the complexity of the maze and your ability to solve the puzzle, it can take 20 minutes to a couple of hours. ( If you get lost, there are ways to be found- mazes have safety measures in effect to ensure that no one is left stranded inside .) The Upper Valley offers a variety of maze options- pet friendly, kid friendly, haunted, and/or themed. Some are easy, others difficult, so do your homework before heading out to be sure the maze is suited for your adventure seeking level. And, be sure to dress appropriately for the weather,bring snacks and water with you in case you get tired, hungry or frustrated enough o to sit down and wait for help:)- and, a flashlight if it’s a nighttime maze.
Here are links to local corn mazes- where your adventure begins. Take that Fall drive. Go. Enjoy. And, be sure to comment back with your favorite Upper Valley maze. We’d love to hear from you…and, better yet, post your corn maze adventure pictures ( Instagram optional, but welcome) on our Facebook Page!