Cover of the 2018 Farmers' Almanac
|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 Geiger of Lewiston, Maine, it is famous for its long-range weather predictions and astronomical data, along with a 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.
Predictions for each edition are made as far as two years in advance. The U.S. retail edition of the Farmers' Almanac weather predictions for seven U.S. climatic zones, defined by the publishers, in the continental United State. Predictions cover 16 months, from the previous September (when the almanac for the new year is released) through December of the publication year.
The Farmers' Almanac will only state publicly that their method 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. According to the publishers, the true identity of the forecaster is kept secret to prevent him or her from being "badgered".
Publishers point to "many longtime Almanac followers claim that our forecasts are 80% to 85% accurate" on their website. Professional meteorologists refute this pointing to historical results of below 50 percent accuracy rate. "The ability to predict events that far in advance is zero," according to Penn State meteorologist Paul Knight
Most editions of the Farmer's Almanac include a "human 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 attention over the years include:
- Farmers' Almanac's 2010 list of the "5 Worst Weather Cities" which elicited a call for retraction from syracuse.com after naming the Central New York city as the worst winter weather city.
- The 2014 Winter Outlook which called for a winter storm to hit just about the time Super Bowl XLVIII was to be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (no such storm materialized, and the weather was actually warmer than average at the time of the event).
- The 2001 campaign to name an official National Dessert (readers resoundingly responded in favor of traditional apple pie).
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, in Chatham County, Georgia.
The Old Farmers' Almanac has also been referenced in numerous television shows and movies, including The Office, MASH, Twin Peaks, The Dukes of Hazzard, Wings, Cold Case, The Last Starfighter, and Father of the Bride. Popular culture does not always distinguish between the Farmers' Almanac and the older Old Farmer's Almanac, so it is not always clear to which publication a particular reference is meant to allude.
The Old Farmer's Almanac was used in Young Mr. Lincoln, a movie about the future president starring Henry Fonda. Lincoln 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.
- "How Does the Farmers' Almanac Predict the Weather?". Farmers Almanac.
- Hullinger, Jessica. "How Does the Farmers' Almanac Work?". Mental Floss.
- "Punxsutawney Phil Vs. The Farmers' Almanac: Whom Do You Trust?". NPR.
- "Probing Question: Is the Farmers' Almanac accurate?". Penn State.
- "Pennies Make No Sense But A 12½-Cent Coin Makes A Bit". farmersalmanac.com/. Almanac Publishing Company. 1989. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- Weatherbee, Caleb. "5 Worst Winter Weather Cities". Farmers' Almanac. Almanac Publishing Company. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- "Hey Farmers' Almanac, we demand a retraction. Syracuse is a Winter wonderland". syracuse.com. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
- 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.