One of the biggest challenges for a venue that uses a corn maze is to make sure that it lasts until the end of the season. Most venues are open for at least 6-8 weeks, which means that thousands or even tens of thousands of guests will be on your property and in your corn! And since most venues wrap up around Halloween, the majority of your guests may come at the end of your season.
It is definitely a challenge to keep your Agritourism operation running smoothly after so many days of weekend guests and so many days of weekday field trips. Natural attrition happens and things begin to break. The pumps on the duck races have been rebuilt several times, the wheels on the cow train have been changed out more times than you can count, and the corn cannon has seen its fair share of breakdowns.
Why do I mention this? Because it is crucial that the Agritourism experience that you provide is as amazing in November as it is in September. If your guests visit your property and notice things falling down, broken or just plain messy, it can work against you for return customers or positive feedback. So it is extremely important that all aspects of your venue maintain a high level of quality and professionalism from start to finish. This becomes harder as you become more and more tired and “just want it all to be over”! Just remember Disney World when you think of professionalism. They have been providing a quality experience day after day and year after year, and their name is their business. The Disney name is now synonymous with quality.
When it comes to your corn maze, you need to remember the investment of time and money that it entails. From the design to the layout, from planting to spraying and clearing of the paths, it has cost a great deal. For a corn maze, there are several threats to maintaining its quality from start to finish. Weather is a big one. This is one thing that is just out of our realm of control. When you plant, there can be too much rain or not enough rain. The temperature can be crucial as to whether it grows tall or stays short. A strong wind can cause a lot of damage. Hail is a killer to a corn field and an early snow can knock it flat.
Of course there are some things that can be done to help manage how the weather affects your corn maze. Provide irrigation, if your operation allows. You can use drought resistant corn to make it more hearty during the dry times. You can make sure the field drains properly, and you can make sure that you don’t over-plant in the same place to maintain good drainage. Sometimes, however, weather puts a major dent in your maze and in your pocket. There is nothing you can do.
One thing you can do to make sure that your maze lasts until the late season is to protect the corn from your guests! I remember one of my first visits to a corn maze, and it was before I ran one. I was a late season guest, and at that point it was difficult to determine where the paths were even supposed to be. By late season, the corn was dry and brown. Normal shrinkage had happened and the corn probably hadn’t grown very high, even at its peak. So what I experienced was a mess. It didn’t require much to navigate the maze at that point because the paths were everywhere and the corn was trampled beyond belief.
Now, this particular maze probably needed help at its beginning. It probably lacked fertilization and never reached optimal height. It’s always best when the maze is high and tight. In other words, you want your guests to feel lost and force them to navigate the paths. That’s why it’s called a maze! The bridges should be the only option for a better view of the overall layout.
But I would also recommend netting your corn maze paths. There are several companies that sell the netting that we used in our mazes, and we found it absolutely necessary to preserve the corn and to make sure it lasted until the end of the season. Using netting forces your guests to remain on the paths and protects your investment for the enjoyment of every guest.
Now that I’ve made my point about the need for netting, next week I will get into detail of how to install the netting. Thanks for reading!