April 15-21, 2019
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
The Cows Switching Their Tails Moon reaches perigee (its position closest to Earth) at 5:02 p.m. on April 16 and waxes full on April 19 at 6:12 a.m. Seed root crops after full moon, but you might wait to set out well-developed plants until next week.
With full moon so close to perigee, the danger of frost remains high. As the moon wanes into its fourth quarter at 5:18 p.m. on April 26, freezing temperatures become much less likely through the remainder of the month.
In spite of perigee and the full moon at the beginning of this period, the chances of a high above 50 degrees are 85 percent on almost every day during April’s third quarter, and temperatures above 60 come at least half the time. Highs only in the 20s are rare (just a 5 percent chance on April 17-18), but frost still strikes an average of one night in four.
Beginning on April 20, the chances of an afternoon high in the 70s or 80s jumps from an average of 25 percent way up to 45 percent.
Rain or snow falls an average of 35 percent of the time this week of the year, April 15 being the wettest day of all, carrying a 45 percent chance of rain and an additional 20 percent chance of snow.
Beginning on April 16, a major increase in the average daily amount of sunlight takes place: a rise from early April’s 50/50 chance of sun or clouds up to a brighter 70 percent chance of clear to partly cloudy conditions.
The natural calendar
April 15: Magnolias, redbuds, lilacs, dogwoods, cherries, peaches, apples, quinces, maples, and pears are almost always flowering near this date. Frogs and toads are mating: listen for their calls on warm evenings.
April 16: By now, the sun reaches a declination of a little more than 10 degrees; that’s about 70 percent of the way between winter solstice to summer solstice.
April 17: The Great Dandelion Bloom is underway throughout the region.
April 18: In the wetlands, the yellow flowers of ragwort and the white flowers of water cress unfold.
April 19: The Lyrid Meteors fly over your pastures between April 19-25, with the best viewing on April 22. The meteors will appear near the Summer Triangle, especially in Lyra, across the southeastern sky.
April 20: Red-bellied woodpeckers, towhees, catbirds, and thrushes sing in the woods. Grackles settle in to court and mate. Buzzards roost and turkeys gobble. Mallards pair up, and geese nest near parking lots and riverbanks.
April 21: Cross-Quarter Day is April 21, halfway between equinox and solstice, and the sun enters the late-spring sign of Taurus on the same date.
In the countdown to summer, it is:
•One week to morel season
•Two weeks until clover blooms
•Three weeks to the great warbler migration through the lower Midwest
•Four weeks to the first strawberry pie
•Five weeks until the first orange daylilies blossom
•Six weeks until roses flower
•Seven weeks until the first mulberries are sweet for picking and cottonwood cotton drifts in the wind
•Eight weeks until wild black raspberries ripen
•Nine weeks until fledgling robins peep in the bushes
•10 weeks until cicadas chant in the hot and humid days
Field and garden
The juniper webworm emerges, and eastern tent caterpillars may begin to weave on flowering fruit trees. Spring barley planting time usually comes to a close.
Armyworms, slugs, corn borers, flea beetles, and leaf hoppers appear in the fields at about the same time that iris buds. Lilac borers bore the lilacs. Grub worms come to the surface of the lawn when the temperatures begin to reach past 70 degrees. First grasshoppers are born.
Frosts may be over for the season, and average afternoon highs break 60 degrees almost everywhere in the lower Midwest.
Roman Easter is April 19 this year. Save your newly weaned milk-fed lambs weighing about 25-45 pounds, and not older than three months, for this market. Light-colored meat is best, a sign of the suckling animal. Lambs weighing under 20 pounds or more than 50 may not bring the best price.
Best of the Almanac
Funny But Lucky: A True Story
"When I was 12 years old," writes Sylvia Basinger, from Bluffton, Ohio, "my uncle and aunt invited me to go along with them to Pennsylvania. I asked my folks, and they said I could. This was a great treat for me. It was the first time I left the state of Ohio.
"When we arrived at our destination, Aunt Stella had an old-fashioned cook-stove meal waiting for us. We all ate together. And then, of course, I looked the outdoors over.
“My aunt and uncle had a privy, and it was some distance from their house. I went into the outhouse and sat down on the hole. Suddenly I heard some pigs grunting real loud underneath me! I jumped up off the toilet seat and saw, to my surprise, two half-grown hogs down below.
"Luckily, I hadn't been bitten, but I screamed anyway and ran to the house to tell my Aunt Stella what'd happened. She told her husband, but he just said, 'Oh, I cleaned out the outhouse pit, and I forgot to put back the boards.'
"Those days are gone forever," comments Sylvia, "but the memory will always remain with me."