At a wedding this past weekend I had a conversation with a farmer from northern Iowa. We got on the subject of planting and weather. He asked me if I had ever heard the phrase “Plant corn when oak leaves are the size of squirrels' ears”. I had not, and it got me thinking – what else am I missing?

I did a Google search and found out that these fall under the term phenology, officially the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and inter-annual variations in climate. And I found a few more of these phrases for farmers and backyard gardeners. Such as:

• When red winged blackbird females (the ones without the showy red wings) return it’s time to plant peas.
• When the chickadees build their nests, plant peas and spinach.
• Plant your corn when apple blossoms start to fall.

Got others you’ve picked up along the way to guide your planting calendar? Please post them in the comments.

By Bo Geigley. Bo is Iowa Farm Bureau’s Multimedia Developer / Print Designer.