Corn Maze

GPS and computer-generated designs are key to making a modern corn maze like the one at Oregon Dairy.

In 1993, a corn maze sprouted at Lebanon Valley College. The 126,000-square-foot maze was big enough to claim the record as the world’s largest. How did they build it? About a dozen people pulled corn stalks by hand, working in a grid of 25-foot-squares. It took a month for the dinosaur design to emerge.

These days, GPS and computer-generated designs are key to making a maze.

Talk about next year’s design starts weeks after the maze closes at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. In the fall, a cover crop of rye is planted to keep the maze from getting too muddy.

The corn is planted around Memorial Day and then the 5-acre field is divided into a grid. That grid helps staff mark the design on the ground with paint and add big elements like bridges and a slide.

When the corn pops up, stalks in the paths are hoed away, says Brian Groff, marketing supervisor.

This year, Cherry Crest’s maze sends people through a vintage pickup truck and around the name of the farm, which adds a challenge.

“Any time you’re doing letters in a corn field, you’ve got to make sure you’re pretty precise to get that image to pop,” he says. “That’s probably the hardest thing from year to year, one, selecting an image that’s going to pop and then two, make sure when you’re cutting it that it’s all correct and it does pop.”

At Oregon Dairy, the corn maze design is drawn on graph paper and turned into a map with GPS coordinates, says Nancy Brown, marketing manager. The map’s uploaded to an iPad and guides the mower on where to cut paths through the 15 acres of corn.

Amish Farm and House’s corn maze comes together without a lot of technology.

Every year, the site’s general manager Mark Andrews creates a design on pen and paper based on quilt patterns, says Jamie Burkhart, social media and events coordinator. This year’s maze is the house on the hill quilt pattern.

When the corn planted by an Amish neighbor emerges, paths for the two-acre maze are cut with a weed wacker.