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Scientists Eager to See How Eclipse Impacts the Farm

A total eclipse of the sun will plunge many parts of the Great Plains and Midwest into darkness on Monday, August 21, and researchers are excitedly preparing to study the event’s impact on farm crops and animals. During the eclipse, which will occur in the middle of the day, the sun will disappear for about two and a half minutes and the temperature will drop some 10˚.

Tim Reinbott, director of field operations at the University of Missouri’s South Farm Research Center, says he’s eager to see how those drought-stressed soybean plants will react to the change in light and temperature. Typically, they cope by twisting up their leaves during the day to prevent loss of moisture. At night, they unfold to breathe in carbon dioxide,” says NPR.

“During the middle of all of this, will it unfold itself and then fold itself right back up in response to the eclipse?” Reinbott asks.

Scientists don’t expect the eclipse to affect soybean and corn yields — the darkness will pass too quickly to seriously affect photosynthesis. But researchers think the impact on animals might be more pronounced.

“Bees depend upon the environment to regulate their temperature, and that may suggest that if indeed it does cool off a few degrees as the eclipse progresses, then they would get less active because they would be at a lower temperature physiologically,” says University of Missouri biology professor Candi Galen. The center will also track chicken and cattle behavior during the eclipse.

FERN’s Ag Insider. Produced by FERN
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