Farmers’ Full Moon Fever

August 22, 2008

moon.jpgFarmers around the U.S. Midwest hope that this year’s growing season will stretch out a few days longer than usual into the fall to make up for the slow start to the growing season. Corn and soybean crops around the U.S. Midwest are depending on a warm and rainy finish to the growing season to reach the full potential predicted by crop scouts on the Pro Farmer Midwest Tour.

To try and forecast the date of the critical first frost, which could devastate thousands of acres of crops that were planted late due to cold and wet conditions in the spring, farmers are looking to the sky. Or to be more specific, they are looking at the moon.

Farmers, most of whom employ technology such as GPS systems on their harvesters and utilize seeds that were genetically modified to grow insect and disease resistant crops, are depending on old wives tales and consulting their almanacs to forecast when freezing temperatures would arrive in their areas.

The discussion by farmers about the importance getting past the full moon in mid-September was paramount at many dinners during the Pro Farmer Midwest crop tour. Some farmers think that if the frost, which could inflict harsh damage on crops that were developing behind schedule due to planting delays in the spring, does not hit during the mid-September full moon, the crops will be safe until the next full moon arrives.

Other farmers in areas such as Nebraska were checking out signs such as the call of the locust and evening fog that they believe tip off the date of the first frost.

The bottom line is that there is no failsafe method to forecast the date of the first frost. But that does not stop farmers from trying.

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