THE OCTOBER CONUNDRUM
October 2016 Departure from Normal Rainfall - areas in yellow to red-oranger received well below normal rainfall in October 2016
October 2016 Observed Rainfall - Areas in green received one inch or more of rain in October. Was this enough for seed germination?
Based on the reports I have been getting from various locations, I am beginning to wonder if the less than normal rainfall in October has had more of a negative impact than first thought. Most of our spring wildflowers including most of the bluebonnets germinate during the fall months from mid-September through mid-November (before the first freeze). We had good rainfall in most areas for September and November, but nearly all locations received less than normal rainfall during October. Late September through October is usually the wettest time during the fall. When the soil temperature drops below a certain level in November germination slows or comes to halt. So, the best time for germination is during that usually wettest time from mid-September through October. The question is: Did the less than normal rainfall in October result in fewer plants? Given the warmer than normal November, did some additional seeds germinate late? Did these late seedlings in November get pushed out by winter grass or other vegetation? I do not know, but I would think it is possible.
When I scouted the Hill Country the end of February, it was not difficult to find bluebonnet rosettes along all of the roads I traveled. I believed then that I saw sufficient plants to produce good displays. Johnny Boyd’s scouting trip seemed to confirm what I saw. However, recent reports of blooms do not seem to match what Johnny and I saw. It is still too early? Perhaps. The temperature in the first two weeks of March was closer to normal, so that might have slowed things down to more of a normal time schedule. Last year when I check on the Hill Country on March 28th, I saw several locations with roadsides covered with bluebonnet plants in full bloom. I am thinking if we do not see those same locations or others in full bloom by the first of April then we might not see much at all this year in the Hill Country. Fields did not show up until after the first of April last year, and the usual time frame for the Hill Country is closer to the first two weeks of April. Mason County fields always run a bit closer to the 10th to the 15th of April.
Bottom-line: I hope I am wrong, but I am getting concerned that the less than normal rainfall in October might have had more of a negative impact on our spring wildflower show than first thought. This could mean we will have a less than average showing of bluebonnets and other wildflowers at least in the Hill Country. The closer to normal weather in the first two weeks of March has probably put us back closer to normal schedule. Just saw a report from Larry White that indicates there is good coverage of plants along Texas 29 and parts of Texas 71. This seems to be the opposite of what others are seeing, but not sure why the conflict at this point. One thing is certain. we need a couple more rain events to keep what is out there growing so it will bloom. With normal temperatures and normal rainfall, we should still see some displays of wildflowers. We always do!
Be sure to check out the recent trip report for this season for the latest on the status of the routes out there! Texas Wildflower Reports 2017 - http://www.wildflowerhaven.com/Commun...7/scope/threads