Phases of the moon are part of the farming tradition

A full moon rose over the Central Valley Monday night and peeked through the low clouds.

The celestial object plays an important role in the local agricultural communities, large and small.

Jack Ewing in his “Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate” expounds on thecampesino traditions of planting and cutting fruit based on phases of the moon. He became a believer after he experimented with bananas and palm leaves used for roofing.

Ewing is hardly alone. Since Roman times many writers on agricultural topics and those involved in the day-to-day activities believe in the power of the moon to affect germination and plant growth. Plant at the wrong time and your crop will not germinate, mature or produce well, so the theory goes.

The moon also is credited with affecting human moods, and many police officers say emergency calls spike when the moon is full. Nurses report that patients sometimes become more upset as the moon nears being full.

In fact, some of these beliefs are strongly held and can be the topic of argument.

Local campesinos notwithstanding, there have been several academic efforts that debunk the power of the moon on crops. For starters, scientists argue that the moon may be able to raise tides but the effect on humans and crops is so tiny it could hardly be measured. They also point out that the moon always is up there whether is it illuminated or not.

Despite the studies, Costa Rican farmers will continue to plant root crops when the moon is waning and crops that produce above ground when the moon is waxing.

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