Farming with deep family roots at Shryock’s Callaway Farms.
The Shryock family has been farming in Callaway County for more than 130 years. The family moved to Callaway County from Kentucky in the 1880s and began the scenic farm that for several years now has sported a storied corn maze each autumn.
Denny, Joe, Mike, and Brett Shryock — representing the fourth and fifth generations running the 4,000-acre farm — are at the helm as Shryock’s Callaway Farms reaches its 134th year. While advancements in technology have made their farming practices more efficient, the farm still runs on the same core values that their great-grandparents put roots into.
Technology in Agriculture
In the spring season, Shryock’s Callaway Farms plants corn, soybeans, and wheat in the fields that have been tilled or sprayed to remove weeds. A tractor that is equipped with self-guiding GPS plants the crops, which Dustin Shryock says helps avoids skips or overlaps in planting, creating better use of the land. To maintain the fields full of crops, the farm uses an irrigation system that employs a pump and 23 center-pivot irrigators. Shryock says that if all 23 irrigators ran all day, the system would distribute 15 million gallons of water – each day.
The crops mature in the fall and are harvested with the use of combines that allow the Shryocks to understand crop yielding in each area along with other valuable data, such as the moisture content of the grain.
Shryock notes that with the advancements in technology, the farm can now harvest over 10,000 bushels of corn a day, compared to the 100 bushels per day total back when his great-grandfather started the farm. After harvest, the crops are hauled to their grain facilities for drying and storage. Shryock says the grain facilities can hold up to 500,000 bushels, which is equivalent to 28 million pounds.
The Corn Maze
Shryock’s Callaway Farms is known for the annual corn maze, which is open from mid-September through early November. Shryock says the first corn maze was opened in 2002, and visitors were invited “to explore the maze, pick pumpkins, play games, and just enjoy being on the farm.”
The Shryock family harvests corn as one of its main crops, and each fall it turns the crop into fun for the entire family. From start to finish the family puts in countless hours to create the corn mazes. The maze begins with a boundary that is created by a GPS receiver. Once the boundary is placed, the design is mapped out and GPS points are plotted along the design, creating a connect-the-dots version of the final product. Once all points are plotted, the receiver guides the farm team back through the field to place numbered flags on each point.
Once the corn reaches more than a foot tall, a lawnmower meticulously follows the numbered flag creating the pristine corn maze design. The corn maze theme is different each year. Past themes have included PacMan, the great American road trip, national parks, Mizzou, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Wild West, and more. The family brings new ideas together each year and collaborates on the ideas until they agree on the best topic. (Shryock notes that there are usually a lot of bad ideas, so it can take months to come up with the best idea.)
Activities for Everyone
Aside from the corn maze, Shryock Callaway Farms has numerous activities during its corn maze season. The fun barn is where you can find a 40-foot tube slide, corn box, viewing deck, gumball coaster, and rope swings. Outside there are barrel train rides, campfires, and a jumping pillow. There is also a pumpkin patch on site that the Shryock kids have taken over.
“The kids have taken over the pumpkin production and sales, and are very excited about a larger crop than ever this season,” Shryock explains, noting that the crop’s place in the farm’s lure for visitors.
“We just wanted to have some fun and see if people would be interested,” he continues, “and it turns out they were.”
Shryock’s Callaway Farms
2927 County Road 253