It’s no joke — thunder wakes the peepers and brings good crops of corn and hay


As we start April, you may have not heard these next two weather proverbs, but they still ring true today.


“If it thunders on All Fools’ Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay,” and “The first thunder of the year awakens all the frogs.” The thunder and frogs — called “spring peepers” — officially sound the trumpets of spring.

These lesser-known proverbs proclaim the beginning of the season and the effects that April’s first thunderstorms have on farmers across the world, pointing to the possibilities of a prosperous growing season.

It turns out proverbs like these two hold a lot of weight and are many times accurate. Here is why and where to use them.

For those keeping score at home, the lion’s roar was definitely heard this March with record snowfall in Colorado and Wyoming, tornado outbreaks in the southeastern United States and record flooding in Nashville.

Good crops are no laughing matter for farmers


“If it thunders on All Fools’ Day, it brings good crops of corn and hay.”

The author of this Old English weather proverb is unknown. But to understand the weather, you first must know a bit of foolish history.

Here is why March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb (usually)

April 1, as many know, is a day set aside for pranks and practical jokes people may play on one another.

Historians believe April Fools’ — or, historically, All Fools’ Day — can be traced to the 16th century, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, although no one knows for sure.

Per the agreement in the Council of Trent in 1563, the new year would begin on January 1 instead of April 1, around the spring equinox.

Word was slow to spread in those times and many never realized the call for the calendar change. They were the butt of jokes for years to come and called “All Fools.”

Even hundreds of years later, Mark Twain got into the fun, saying, “The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

Early-season thunderstorms — such as those that can pop up April 1 — can lead to an early growing season for farmers. It also is an early hint of excitement with how the growing season may end and the hope of an abundance of yields.

April has been said to be half March and half May. To have a quick transition from winter to spring (the earlier, the better, for farmers), the environment must undergo enough changes to support the development of thunderstorms.

A warmer and more volatile atmosphere can quickly cause the crash of thunder and the spring deluge of heavy rain to accompany it.

Typically, a warmer atmosphere this time of year has a direct relationship with warmer soil temperatures. The two go hand in hand and are perfect for an explosion of spring growth.

By the end of the century, summer weather could last half a year (and that's not a good thing)

That doesn’t mean snow may not fall for some; as another old saying goes, “Corn is as warm under snow as an old man is under his blankets.” Or, “Snow in April is manure,” which could have a couple of different meanings. However, never fear, this is OK to still have a fruitful year.

“It really depends on the weather that leads up to April Fools’ Day,” says Mary Knapp, a service climatologist with the Kansas State University Research and Extension Office. “If we get rain in early April and it’s been dry up to that point, it could really save the winter wheat crop, in addition to improving the hay pastures where cool season grasses need that for their growth period.”

The ability for hay farmers to get an extra cut of grass in a growing season can be very beneficial for them, especially with the demand in other states that maybe experiencing drought.

However, she adds, “if it’s been really wet before April first and heavy rain continues, it can delay the ability to get into the fields and plant corn, and that’s a negative.”

Which could be the case across a rain-soaked South this April.

As for the proverb about good crops of corn and hay, Knapp says, “The first thing that comes to mind when I hear this proverb: We’ll take rain on April Fools’ Day, any day!”

It’s not just in the United States; farmers on the other side of the globe notice the same benefits of an early April thunderstorm.

In the Middle East, they say, “When the olive tree blooms during April, olives are harvested with barrels; when it blossoms in June, they are harvested in handfuls.’

And in Italy: “Aprile ogni goccia un barile,” meaning, “April, every raindrop, a barrel of wine.”

Peepers sound the alarm, it’s spring

“The first thunder of the year awakens all the frogs.”

Keeping with our thunderous theme, this proverb references the loud rumble of thunder to help awaken all creatures to “spring” into action and let the rebirth of the season begin.

They’re known as the spring peepers — Mother Nature’s spring alarm clock that can be heard near dusk and into the night, a chorus of serenading tiny frogs that shout the warmer days are coming.

In the cold winter months, they survive after becoming nearly frozen solid. When the warm-up begins, these “chorus frogs” do their thing.

Expect spring to be even drier out west, says NOAA

“Peepers are among the earliest breeding species across North America. Despite their small size, they produce a loud call which — when scaled by the massive numbers of these frogs that breed at wetlands — create choruses that can be heard just about anywhere as winter wanes,” says Dr. John Maerz, a professor of Vertebrate Ecology at the University of Georgia who runs a herpetology lab (the study of reptiles and amphibians).

The spring peeper can fit on a quarter and can grow to 1.5 inches long. It’s a tiny frog with a small cross on its back, hence its scientific name, Pseudacris crucifer. The females are about twice the males’ size, but it’s the males that do the singing, a mating call that can last for weeks.

“As someone who spends lots of time in wetlands looking for frogs and salamanders, spring peeper choruses can be so loud that it can leave your ears ringing,” Maerz says.

It’s a vast area of the country where these peepers live, so the opportunity for most people to hear them is excellent.

For some, the spring peeper emerges before the first of April, but for many it happens right around the beginning of the month.

The spring peeper found in the South, the P. c. bartramiana, thrives from southeastern Texas across the Gulf Coast into northern Florida and Georgia. The other subspecies, P. c. crucifer, is found from Georgia northward, all the way into central and eastern Canada, and from the Mississippi River eastward to the Atlantic coast.

The Western states have their species as well, but the slower warm-up in the weather causes these peepers to sing later in the spring season.

Whether it’s the warmer temperatures, the blooming of the flowers or the singing sounds of the spring peepers, we all know and love this glorious time of rebirth and renewal. As William Shakespeare said, “April, dressed in all his trim, hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”

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