BOSTON Scott Freitas grandmother always followed the farmers almanac, but the fourth-generation farmer never does.
Selling corn and apples at a recent farmers market in Boston, Freitas said the almanacs are more for fun than real-life farm use, and he relies on experience instead.
I do what our familys been doing, he said.
Many farmers such as Freitas say farmers almanacs, known for their catchy weather predictions, are no longer a go-to source in the Information Age. Some, however, still turn to the centuries-old booklets for long-range weather predictions. The 2013 edition of the Old Farmers Almanac hit shelves Wednesday.
In the early days, I suppose it used to be the main source of information, maybe the only source of information, said Annie Cheatham, executive director of the New England Farmers Union, which gets a copy of the Old Farmers Almanac every year. Of course, thats changed a lot with satellite information.
The 221-year-old Old Farmers Almanac based in New Hampshire not to be confused with the slightly younger Farmers Almanac based in Maine predicts a cold winter in the East, South and Southwest and a mild winter in the Midwest, heartland and West Coast. Summer, however, will be warmer on the West and East Coasts and cooler throughout the rest of the country.
The Old Farmers Almanac, which boasts a 3.1 million print circulation plus digital versions, is used by all audiences, not just farmers, editor Janice Stillman said.
Gardeners, ranchers, roofers, astronomy clubs and brides-to-be turn to the book for weather, astronomy and recipe information, she said.
A lot of the folks who buy the Old Farmers Almanac grew up on farms or their parents or grandparents did, said Stillman, who gardens but doesnt farm, and checks the weather predictions for her own travel plans. Whether they read it in the bathroom or in the kitchen, its something they always want to have on hand.
Richard Bonanno, president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Board of Directors, said some farmers likely use almanacs as a general guideline for their long-range weather predictions, such as whether winter will be colder or warmer than normal.
I hear farmers talk about it all the time: Did you hear the almanac said its going to be a cold winter? Bonanno said. Within the agricultural community, theres still discussion about it.
But Bonanno, who is in his 50s, said younger farmers are less likely to turn to the almanacs acumen.
Younger generations are probably checking the Internet to see what the high tides going to be, not pulling out the almanac, he said.
Dan Tawczynski, 67, of Taft Farms in Great Barrington, Mass., said his father used an almanac but he doesnt.
I think youre foolish to ignore it completely, he said
While almanacs arent especially valuable to farmers, he said, theyre too quaint to disappear.