LONG GROVE, Iowa -- The farmers at the Pride of the Wapsi spent their last day of the 2018 planting season preparing a seven-acre corn field for a fall favorite... the corn maze.
For 15 years Pat Dierickx and his wife Lora Dierickx have been planting corn mazes. In the beginning, they'd plant the maze and then Pat would mow down alleys. With advancements in technology, those days are long over.
"We're using technology that allows us the opportunity to have the map already there so the planter row units will turn on and off where the alleys need to be," explained Dierickx.
Because of the technology there's no cutting or shaping necessary and no wasted seeds planted.
"I'ts not about saving or costing extra money, it's about utilizing the technology of farmers today to make this maze."
On Friday, May 11th, the seeds went into the ground. In just under two weeks the corn will start sprouting.
They'll monitor the field throughout the summer, to ensure the maze is ready for fall.
And on top of entertainment, Dierickx said the Wapsi is all about education.
"Each year we design a maze with the opportunity to educate the Quad Cities area in some fashion," he said, "and I think the media representation gives a voice to a dwindling number of agriculture folks out here to celebrate what we do to feed the world."
Since 2012 the corn maze has been a tribute to a local favorite. First was a hat tip to buying local, 2013 was Fareway Stores, 2014 was the Cy-Hawk trophy, 2015 was United We Stand, 2016 was Culver's, and 2017 P&K.
And 2018 is a partnership with WQAD, and the Storm Track 8 weather team.
As people navigate through the maze in the fall, they'll be met with checkpoints that ask weather-related questions. Correct answers will direct maze-goers in the correct direction; wrong answers will send people in the wrong direction.
In addition, there will be two options for people, depending on difficulty preference: a longer, more complicated maze and a shorter, quicker maze.