In these days with more science than the world has ever known, there is still plenty that is unknown in the world of agriculture. Because of that, there are still those out there who consider the sage advice in the pages of almanacs.
At the office, we consulted multiple farmer’s almanacs this spring to identify the best days to plant corn. In general, according to almanac wisdom of old, it is best to try and plant corn in the first quarter following the new moon. In both April and May, the new moon phase starts on the 18th. The very best dates are after the first quarter, which starts on the 25th of both months. Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces are considered the best Zodiac signs for planting.
With all of this in mind, we came up with a list of the best days to plant with input from Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac, Harris’ Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Almanac. For planting corn in Ohio, the best days are April 19, 20 and 23 though 25 and May 21, 22, and 28 through 31.
Scott Labig, who farms in Darke County, looks at the field conditions, soil temperatures, and carefully tracks the weather forecast like every farmer during planting season. He also considers the phase of the moon in his planting decisions.
“I think it does have some merit,” he said. “In February or March I dig the almanac out of the nightstand and start looking at the dates for the windows we need to plant in. This year the key planting dates are more limited than what they have been in the past.”
Then, if all the other factors for planting are right, Labig tries to get as much corn in the ground as possible during the windows of optimal planting according to the almanac.
“We are right in an optimum period right now and we are missing it around here,” Labig said. “Usually when I get started rolling I don’t stop, especially if I’m in that window. I really try to go on that day to get that corn in if I can and slow up or stop when I get way outside that window. But if I am outside of that window, it is hard to sit idle and watch the neighbors farming around me.”
Along with telling farmers which days to plant, the moon phase also offers advice on when not to plant — the last quarter. In both April and May this year those dates are the 11th through the 17th. Labig said that he has noticed that planting by the phase of the moon does translate in some positive realities in his fields.
“Last year I planted into Mother’s Day weekend. That was the worst corn I had and it was outside of the window,” he said. “I don’t know that I see it so much in the yields, but I have seen differences in the emergence. Years ago Dad asked me why I thought some fields we planted would emerge so much better than others. That is when I started buying the almanac.”
As an experiment this planting season, we are going to keep track of planting progress around Ohio and the country and take note of the percentage that falls into the optimum planting windows (and the not so optimum windows) according to the moon phases in the almanacs. At the end of the season we will make a 2015 corn yield estimate based on what we find, then see how planting by the moon phase translates into a final yield at the end of the season. Stay tuned and have a great planting season.