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Aggie Corn Maze Open For Business Despite Drought

Aggie Corn Maze Open For Business Despite Drought

By Luke Henkhaus

Last week saw the return of a beloved fall tradition as the Aggie Corn Maze welcomed its first visitors of the season.

Despite the dry conditions plaguing crops across the state this year, student volunteers from the Texas A&M Agronomy Society were committed to making the annual maze a success. Trenton Sulak, who serves as the Agronomy Society’s corn maze chair, said the 3.5-acre plot of corn on F&B Road has required plenty of special care and maintenance to become maze-worthy.

“This year, we were super dry,” said Sulak, a plant and environmental soil science senior at the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. “The whole time that we’ve had the corn in the ground, we’ve had a total of like five inches of rain, and we’re coming off of one of the worst droughts in over a decade. So it was difficult.”

The students have had their hands full since early August when the corn was first planted. Sulak said the team has spent countless hours maintaining the irrigation system, fighting off pests, and doing everything they could to ensure that enough corn would survive until October.

Finally, teams of students headed out into the field armed with hoes, chopping a complex series of paths through the corn until the maze was complete. This year in particular, Sulak said visitors can expect an extra level of difficulty from the maze. For those who step up to the challenge, confidence will be key.

“We try to have a gameplan for what kind of goal we want to accomplish with our designs, and strategically try to make the maze complicated for people,” Sulak said. “But have confidence, that’s the main thing. Don’t give up hope too early.”

In addition to the maze itself, this year’s visitors will also see a plot of sunflowers, a group of specially-bred cotton plants with Aggie maroon branches and a combine harvester — all part of the Agronomy Society’s effort to advance agricultural education and community outreach.

“The number one motivation is to bring agriculture to the community,” Sulak said. “As agriculturalists, you want to teach people where their food comes from and how a farm operates.”

crop

A special variety of cotton on display at the Aggie Corn Maze produces dark leaves, pink flowers, and deep maroon branches.

The students are also working to remain at the forefront of agricultural innovation by incorporating new technologies into the planting and growing process. Starting next year, the Agronomy Society hopes to utilize a new precision planting system that will eliminate the need to carve the maze by hand. Instead, the system will switch on and off during planting, only dropping seeds where it has been programmed to do so.

“You can draw on an iPad the paths and logo designs, and then every row unit will turn on and off where you want. So it’s an amazing tool,” Sulak said. “It’s a new age in agriculture; technology has increased so much in the last decade, and we’re trying to implement some of that in the corn maze.”

This year’s corn maze will be open from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 28, 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 30 and 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 31. Additional information and a link to purchase tickets can be found on the Texas A&M Agronomy Society’s Facebook page.

Source : tamu.edu

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