View Full Version : Corn!!!!
02-27-2011, 03:25 PM
Well guys I want to make 1/3 of my haunt this year a corn field. I have never grown corn so how do you guys do it. What time should I plow the field? What is the tallest best corn to plant.? and How would I water a 2 1/2 acre field? When is the best time to plant it to be ready for the Halloween season?
Front Yard Fright
02-27-2011, 03:53 PM
I'm sure Larry will have a couple pointers for you on this subject. He had a cornfield themed haunt as a part of his Creepyworld haunt a few years back... And from what I remember he had said that it was quite a hassle to grow the corn and then to keep it from being trampled from all the foot traffic. Hopefully he'll chime in and add his two cents!
02-27-2011, 06:01 PM
Corn is one of the most important elements to our haunt, and we have learned the hard way how to plant and which varieties. First, I would contact a local farmer and see if they will plant the corn for you. Go to your local feed and supply company and speak with a representative about successful varieties for your area.
- We are in the Mid-Atlantic region, and we use a silage variety which is extra tall and has a strong stalk. This way, you have corn that is ready for heavy foot traffic.
- Chose a 115-120 day maturity seed. There are "short season" corn varieties that are ready to harvest in 90 days, and there are long season varieties that are ready in 120 days. I believe ours is 117.
- Plant your corn around the 1st of July, this way your corn is still maturing in October, and will not begin to dry until late October/early November. Your crop should be ready to harvest (if you chose to do so) by Thanksgiving. The first season we opened, we used a 90 day variety that was planted in the middle of May. The corn was dry and ready for harvest before we opened. This causes a major fire hazard. If the fire marshal asks questions, it is easy to get by when you will have plenty of moisture content in the corn when you're open.
- When you plant your corn, make sure the farmer/planter cross plants the corn (plants in 2 directions). This will give you a tremendous amount of coverage.
- (my numbers might be a little high) but plant your population at about 40,000 seeds per acre (each way you plant)
- Make sure that you are prepared to cut your paths by the time the corn is knee high. You can use a roto-tiller or a lawn mower to keep your path clear. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT because you will hit yourself if you have to remove 8-10' stalks, and there is no easy way to do it. We did this 2 years in a row, and I will never make this mistake again.
- FERTILIZE FERTILIZE FERTILIZE... its expensive, but if you try to skimp here... you could stunt your crop. Once again, a local representative or farmer can help you. (may not hurt to send in a soil sample too)
- In design, try to keep paths at least 15' apart (if not more). When the leaves and ears drop by the end of the season, paths are significantly more visible at distances up to 15-20'.
- It is probably a good idea to remove corn cobs within 2 rows of any walking path. The last thing you need is a customer grabbing a 12" corn cob and smacking one of your actors with it.
- DO NOT let your actors 'make their own' paths in the corn... this has been a disaster for us in the past...
- As for irrigation, find out what type of soils you have. This will help determine what level of irrigation you'll need. We are in a heavy clay-based soil which retains water for long periods of time. However, if it does not rain during the heavy growth part of the season (between 0 and 60 days), you may need to supplement your crop with water.
If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an e-mail at Patrick(at)legendsofthefog.com
02-27-2011, 07:48 PM
Hey Patrick... awesome post! I had a quick question though, what do you think about the following.... do you think it's possible to build your haunt with small sheds, barns...etc inside the corn field, aka, use the corn just to create your paths to your scenes, small buildings...etc. Or do you think it would appear too monotonous for customers? It might work, but, from a marketing standpoint I don't know if a corn field haunt could be the primary show. If done right maybe not all corn and use fake would fences...etc could be very effective. On other hand, I don't know the cost of creating/maintaining a corn field "haunt" maze...
02-27-2011, 09:12 PM
diesel fueled tractor, seed corn, labor, ex cetra. For many years when farmers would finally get to sell their corn they were lucky to make anything!
Check out getting someone to plow and plant for you early because corn prices were at an all-time high late in the selling season and farmers might be devoting more acres to corn than before and their time then is very valuable.
The previous post about having a cornfield was excellant and illustrated how knowledge does directly translate into profit, because you get to Not make mistake$ by using this information.
02-28-2011, 08:25 AM
Jim (1) - I like the idea to use a corn field with your buildings inside. One cool thing about a corn field. If you build your buildings similar to a "black bear structure" (common in our area) which are movable with equipment. You can plant your corn. Immediately place your buildings. the corn will grow up around them... then at the end of the season (after harvest) you can put your buildings away... My only suggestion is don't have long stretches of corn where your guests are unattended... thats the only thing that becomes monotonous.
Jim (2) - You're right, corn is not cheap to plant. But if you find the right farmer to work with, you can do o.k. our yields in our devastated corn maze was still over 100 bushel/acre. If someone is already farming (maybe on an adjacent property) it will be easier to work something out. Also, if you're planting your corn in late June... you're already putting yourself at the end of the totem pole because the farmer is typically finished planting his corn, and is in between corn and wheat harvest. I am not guaranteeing that this will work, but I am rationalizing the relationship between a haunter's demand for corn and a farmer's annual schedule.
Mistakes will always be made... you just need to do your homework to make sure you're in the right ballpark!
02-28-2011, 10:43 AM
I would love info on sort of what your going to do with this. Corn fields are my favorite! Are you going to open this inside an existing attraction or as a side attraction?
02-28-2011, 12:01 PM
I kinda thought it would be a neat idea, you could change your trail each year just by mowing down the corn differently. Using the relocatable black bear shed type structures is good idea, I'd probably have 3-4 semi-permanent larger structures... I'm going to need to get in contact with someone in the area that grows corn and see what the costs run, only way to get a true estimate I suppose. Sounds like you definitely need fertilizers, but, an irrigation system or sprinkler system... would run some bucks, it would be in southern ohio and does rain alot here ,at least this year it is again..lol
02-28-2011, 12:31 PM
I make a maze on one side of field...and a haunted trail on other side of field. Get with a local farmer NOW. Tour farm plots in your area each year in late sept. to select what varieties HOLD THIER LEAVES late into season. THEIR IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE. A farmer doesn't really want to plant for you when you want...liekley as soon as he finishes his fields before moving onto spraying or wheat harvest.
I NEVER haunt a maze (anymore). The haunted trail is over 1/3 mile long with over 65 turns in it...so nobody sees what happens to group in front of them. trail folds back on itself many times so people here screams 30 feet away....but another minute and a half down the trail. I run a vortex tunnel inside a portable shed on outside of field. Then big animatronics like Scarefactory Impaler, Slayer, Scissor sereant came next to set mood or "thats cool" effect. had a few 8 x 12 huts along trail (people want to hesitate at shacks) "No...you go in first" then several actors and scenes.
I plant one direction only at about 32,000 seeds per acre in 30" rows.
02-28-2011, 12:47 PM
Oh yeah. On shacks placed in fields. Make sure your spooks understand nobody wanders out of position and decides to scare someone coming out of a shack or does tag team scare inside unless safety trained for that spot. It is transition curtain from back of shack back to cornfield where customers would colide with each other more than any other spot along trail. Those inside are head down going for exit with 'get me out of here" attitude and people in front of group getting startled backwards back into shack is potential problem. Something about the 'get me out of here" back onto trail mentallity makes head smashing more violent than any other place.
02-28-2011, 01:40 PM
For the last 3 years, we have offered a non-haunted corn maze at night. It has been financially successful, but it has not been tremendously popular. Customers always leave the corn maze wanting... something more. They often speak about having some of our actors out there... I think that haunting a corn maze puts everyone on a level playing field... and puts your actors in danger... now the haunted become the haunters...
Even though something like that is lucrative, we don't want to leave a bad taste in our customers mouth... or leave them wanting for more. So this year, we are going to offer the corn maze as a separate a-la-carte type event, rather than leaving it on the main GA ticket. Hopefully, it will keep out the idiots that go in there just to tear S*** up.
We are considering setting up a haunted corn trail between our hayride and our last haunted house, and having that replace the good ole' corn maze. We have not set this as a final decision yet. It may or may not have many sets involved, but we'll see what happens.
30" rows work out really well. To make a nice narrow trail, you can take out just 1 row width and pull the corn leaves. Or you can take out 2 rows wide, and you can leave the leaves. I just confirmed that we planted 38,000 population in each direction (may have been a little too much) but it really makes the maze thick like bamboo, and it actually makes it more difficult to tear down. This will also allow for you to have the ability for better twists and turns, and even design ability in a corn maze. I'll have to find some of the designs we made and post them.
02-28-2011, 05:34 PM
WOW guys thanks for all this feed back, I like what I read and I think this will help alot. I would love to see the latout you have. I will be putting this corn in western NC we have some corn fields around and dont know if they water them or not. But Ill be finding out soon. Thank guys and if anyone else has any info Please put it up here. OH im going to look into them movable buildings too.!!!!
02-28-2011, 06:06 PM
gave bad info. I cross plant in maze area...but not solid. I plant with 6 row planter and will cross plant rows 2 and 5 shutting off rows 1,3,4,6 across the maze area about every 90 feet. If I do some very intricate work (see pirate skull with flintlock pistol & dagger and Wolly mammoth at bestmaze.com) I will cross plant that area of field so I end up with 30" squares. But I design my maze and figure out how I am going to plant based on design. Even when I cross plant i cut back the cross planted rows to 28,000 seeds. Last year I had 170 bushel corn AFTER the maze ended.
02-28-2011, 06:28 PM
what I was thinking of is forcing the trail into my scenes whatever it maybe leaving no options to turn backwards, yeah, I think people think "corn maze" and "how the heck it the fastest way out of here" mentality. I like narrow trail idea and denser growth, has anybody seen that bamboo that grows like 15ft a year and has trunks 4-6 inches wide, you have to cut with chainsaw I heard... ok, I wonder if there's soil testing kits for optimizing corn growers, you certainly don't want a rocky clay dirt that was fill dirt from last year. I will check around the area here and get some addresses from some folks see what happens. How much money do you get per bundle/bale of corn nowadays? How many acres is 28-35000 corn seeds/plants ? acre like 45k sqft I think.
I do like the idea of as much variety with huanted maze, trail, inside haunt building but quality must be satifying to customers and doing that many things well might take some time. What about throwing in a pumpkin patch, I heard alot of familys like the hayrides and good reason why attendance potential is better and give opportunity to pick up your halloween pumpkin or even give away some every night. Might be more overhead than needed but it's about entertainment keep folks interested.
03-01-2011, 08:05 PM
Sorry spookjj...but I got one heck of a laugh out of your last posting. The 28,000 to 35,000 seeds is PER ACRE. Forgive me for taking short cut in my explanation. habit talking "like a farmer" not good when talking to non farmers. like my 13 year old kid telling me how to do stuff on this new fangled computer I suppose. Right now corn is around $6 a bushel. I did not add corn to my attraction...I added attractions to my corn. I'm 6th generation farming in my township.
I've stuck my neck out a few other times and offered to do a seminar at transworld on corn mazes. So far powers that be have not knocked on my door.
03-02-2011, 01:08 AM
WF... so you really just discard your corn, I suppose you'd have to go out and sell it on the road side otherwise..lol Well, lets put the question another way let's say how many seeds do you plant per acre, that's pretty straight forward talk now, lol right? however, this depends on cross planting...etc but what's your magic number with the method you use? I think you could definitely put a pdf document together and sell, but, you'd have to have someone like me do the dog and pony show on it and then anybody could follow it probably...lol
03-02-2011, 08:32 AM
I plant around 32,000-33,000 seeds per acre in rows 30" apart. That means I am dropping a seed every 6" in the row. This is my "magic" number for me. It produces enough stalks that are healthy and rigid (just leave this alone Shane & Spookhole) so they do not bend/break as easy with wind or customers bumping into them. High populations produce a lot of skinny stalks. Probably some have seen varieties of corn that do not hold leaves well and then plant higher population the next year to compensate for this.
I'll be as honest as I can. If I was a farmer who didn't do any maze or haunt; and someone approached me for help planting a few acres of corn...I would very politely say "Not interested". But people wanting to do this the first time find a farmer in your area. I hate doing fields less than 20 acres...they are a pain. But; you have an ace in your hand this year. Farmers are drooling over more farm land to work because corn is $6. Depending on part of the country...land is renting anywhere from $75 to $250 and more per acre. If you have a plot that is full of old grass sod...less than 7 acres...offer to let farmer have free rent of ground for this year to get it back in shape. Have him plow, spray, plant etc. then the corn is his to harvest AFTER haunt season ends. You have no expense...and it is done right. Try to push a preemergnce weed spray (he will know what I mean) so he doesn't have to turn around on headlands running over corn after it comes out of ground. tell him to add a extra half pound of atrazine...you do not want weeds. And you would like him to use roundup ready corn ($$$$ for seed) You will walk the field with a backpack sprayer if weed problems like thistle or cocklebur come up. You do not want customers walking through those weeds.
03-02-2011, 10:37 AM
We haunted our first corn maze. Learned quickly that we were not in control of the scares. So we came up with a curvey M with a U in it that worked well. We could create scenes along the path and have access by coming into the customer path from behind the flow. The customers never saw them as they didn't see them. Walking backwards through the path would allow seeing them all.
The monster/ maint/ security trailer was placed on the opposite side from the entrance and exit keeping the actors and security out of sight. The pictures I am including show the actual maze on teh bottom and the haunted path in the top right of the picture. The paint pic was done real quick to give a better idea of the concept. It was about 2 1/2 acrea and had 1800+ feet of path. Security could be in any part of it in 10-15 seconds and the monsters could be get in and out inconspicuously. The two places that needed barricades were never crossed.
Plant cross, plant late, and swipe paths with a 1/2 piece of PVC pipe to create a nice clean wall of path. Take a piece about for feet long and walkt the path swiping the leaves off the corn that are hanging into the path. Plant without any buildings and interference, then place buildings with tractor with forks before corn gets 10 inches high. Rototill or flatten path early and mow weekly to keep it clean and flat (safe).
With all the low voltage controls now, utilize that as much as possible. Irrigate if needed because you want as tall and intimidating of corn as possible. Keep paths no wider than 5 feet and curvey.
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