- Not to be confused with the Old Farmer's Almanac. See American almanacs for historical publications with similar titles.
Covers of the 2014 U.S. and Canadian Farmers' Almanacs
|Former editors||Ray Geiger
Berlin Hart Wright
Samuel Hart Wright
|Publisher||Almanac Publishing Company|
|Country|| United States
Farmers' Almanac is an annual North American periodical that has been in continuous publication since 1818. Published by the Almanac Publishing Company of Lewiston, Maine, it is famous for its long-range weather predictions and astronomical data, as well as its trademark blend of humor, trivia, and advice on gardening, cooking, fishing, and human interest. Conservation, sustainable living, and simple living are core values of the publication and its editors, and these themes are heavily promoted in every edition.
In addition to the popular U.S. version, the Almanac Publishing Company also publishes the Canadian Farmers' Almanac and a promotional version that businesses can personalize and distribute to customers. The total annual distribution of all Farmers' Almanac editions is more than 4 million copies.
The Farmers’ Almanac was founded in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1818 by editor David Young and publisher Jacob Mann; this was, coincidentally, two years following the "year without a summer" which was an ecological disaster for farmers in northeastern America.
Astronomer Samuel Hart Wright succeeded Young in 1851, and is in turn succeeded by his son, Berlin Hart Wright, in 1875.
Ray Geiger served as the Farmers’ Almanac's longest-running editor, from 1934 until shortly before his death in 1994. From 1949, the Farmers’ Almanac's is published by Almanac Publishing Company and distributed by Geiger Bros. In 1955, Geiger moved production of the Farmers' Almanac from Newark, New Jersey, to its current headquarters in Lewiston, Maine.
Ray Geiger was succeeded by his son, Peter Geiger, in 1994. The farmersalmanac.com website was launched in 1997. The Almanac Publishing Company partnered with Buy the Farm LLC, based in Savannah, Georgia for the purposes of publishing in video, television and new media, establishing "Farmer's Almanac TV" by 2006.
Weather prediction has always been a major feature of the Farmers' Almanac. The Almanac Publishing Company claims readers of the Farmers’ Almanac have attributed an 80 to 85 percent accuracy rate to the publication’s annual forecasts. However independent studies that retrospectively compare the weather with the predictions have not shown them more accurate than chance.
Predictions for each edition are made as far as two years in advance. The Farmers’ Almanac publishers are highly secretive about the method used to make its predictions, only stating publicly that it is a "top secret mathematical and astronomical formula, that relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and many other factors." The Almanac’s forecaster is referred to by the pseudonym Caleb Weatherbee.
The U.S. retail edition of the Farmers’ Almanac contains 16 months of weather predictions for seven differentiated U.S. climatic zones, beginning in September of the publication year (always the year prior to the edition year – for instance, the 2007 edition was released in September 2006) and extending until December of the following year.
The seven zones are:
- Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia;
- Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky;
- North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida;
- Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado;
- Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico;
- Idaho, Washington, and Oregon;
- Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California.
Most editions of the Farmer’s Almanac include a “human interest crusade,” advocating for a change in some accepted social practice or custom. Previous crusades have included: “How Much Daylight Are We Really Saving,” a recommendation for a revised Daylight Saving Time schedule (2007); “Why is Good Service So Hard to Schedule,” recommending that service providers offer more specific timeframes when scheduling home visits (2006); “A Kinder, Gentler Nation,” urging readers to exercise more common courtesy (2003); “Saturday: The Trick to Making Halloween a Real Treat,” advocating that the observance of Halloween be moved to the last Saturday in October (1999); “A Cure for Doctors’ Office Delays,” demanding more prompt medical service and calling for a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” (1996); and “Pennies Make No Sense,” which sought to eliminate the penny, and to permanently replace the dollar bill with less costly-to-produce dollar coins (1989).
Other pieces that have attracted a great deal of attention over the years include:
- The 2014 Winter Outlook which called for a winter storm to hit just about the time Super Bowl XLVIII is to be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. This attracted the attention of ESPN's Rick Reilly in a piece that aired on ESPN's Monday Night Countdown on October 21, 2013.
- The 2001 campaign to name an official National Dessert (readers resoundingly responded in favor of traditional apple pie).
- A 2002 article that named the “10 Best and Worst Weather Cities in the USA.”
Farmers’ Almanac TV
In 2003, the Farmers’ Almanac partnered with Buy the Farm LLC, a Savannah, Georgia-based production company, to create Farmers' Almanac TV. The show – which featured segments in over a dozen lifestyle categories, including home and garden, sustainable living, cooking, natural cures, and weather – debuted on public television in the spring of 2006, bringing to life stories of grassroots living in both rural and urban America.
Farmers Almanac TV filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May 2009, Chatham County, Georgia.
Over the course of its long publication history, the Farmers’ Almanac has acquired the status of a “household name.” As a result, it receives an enormous amount of national publicity. Editors Peter Geiger and Sandi Duncan grant hundreds of interviews to television, print and online media each year.
The Farmers' Almanac has also been referenced in numerous television shows and movies, including: The Office, MASH, The Dukes of Hazzard, Wings, Cold Case, The Last Starfighter, and Father of the Bride.
In popular culture: The Farmer's Almanac was famously used in Young Mr. Lincoln, a movie about the future president starring Henry Fonda. Lincoln famously referenced the Almanac as a young lawyer in a court case that helped to acquit his client.
Country singer Randy Travis has a song titled, "The Family Bible and The Farmer's Almanac" on his CD "A Man Ain't Made of Stone." The song is about his farmer grandfather and what a wise man he was, yet the only two books he owned were the ones told in the title. He got all the life advice he needed from those two books.
- October 1981 issue of Weatherwise, pages 212-215, John E. Walsh and David Allen
- "Pennies Make No Sense But A 12½-Cent Coin Makes A Bit". http://www.farmersalmanac.com/. Almanac Publishing Company. 1989. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- Weatherbee, Caleb. "The “Days of Shivery” are Back! Read Our 2014 Forecast!". Farmers' Almanac. Almanac Publishing Company. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Belson, Ken. "Almanacs Foresee a Super Bowl to Test Fans’ Resolve, and Snow Gear". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Reilly, Rick. "A New Jersey Snow Bowl". ESPN. Retrieved 2 December 2013.