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Expert Says Texas Wildflowers Will Be Less Showy This Year

Sunflowers begin their annual bloom. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Sunflowers begin their annual bloom. (credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

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DALLAS (AP) - While it’s still early to say for certain how this spring’s wildflower crop will do, the small amount of rain this fall likely means the showing will be less than spectacular, one expert said.

Damon Waitt, senior botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, said the young plants that produce spring’s flowers should be about the size of a dinner plate by winter. But the rosettes he saw on a recent trip into the field were “very, very small.”

“I attribute that to the lack of fall rain. It’s kind of a shame, because last year was so spectacular,” he told The Dallas Morning News.

More than half of Texas is in an official drought, and forecasters don’t expect relief till the warmer months, which is too late for many spring flowers.

Winter in general is the state’s driest period, a tough time to break a drought, said Dennis Cavanaugh of the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

The last significant rain in central Texas, which is the heart of the Texas wildflower country, came from Tropical Storm Hermine in September.

But last year’s strong showing should help down the road.

“It’s a good thing we had a good year last year, because that seed will last in the soil for several years,” Waitt said. “Even if spring is not a banner wildflower year, we can hold out hope for the right rain at the right time for the following spring.”

And even if this year’s crop isn’t as stunning as last year, there still will be flowers.

“There’s still going to be bluebonnets, but maybe not just the fields we’d like to see every year,” Waitt said. “That’s how the climate is.”

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