Gary Regner Photography reports on his March 19, 2017 – South Texas Scouting Trip
On Saturday, I spent over 10 hours in the car and drove 361 miles scouting areas south of Austin and east and south of San Antonio. The highlight of my day was dinner at Sea Island Shrimp House in San Antonio on the way back. I wish I had better news to report, but the areas I visited had very few wildflowers compared to past years. Many areas were not just below average; they were the WORST I’ve ever seen. Wildflowers were blooming along the roads and in fields, just very few. They ranged from early blooms, to at or near peak. Grasses were high everywhere, at least a foot high, nearly 3 feet in other areas, and already going to seed. Grasses looked like they normally would in late April or early May. Is it still too early? Possibly, but I don’t think so and I don’t plan on revisiting the areas I scouted yesterday based on my experience. It was also very warm (87), which is way above average and concerning as well. Here is a detailed list of the areas I covered:
- – US 183/SH 130 from Austin to Lockhart: there were good areas with thick coverage of bluebonnets along the stretch where US 183 and SH 130 run parallel, flowers look about a week from peak. Saw nothing in fields, only along the road.
- – US 183 from Lockhart to Luling: spring usually brings familiar scarlet phlox to the area around Luling in addition to the persistent smell of sulfur, but this year there were very few wildflowers. Grasses are at least a foot high, up to 2 feet in areas.
- – Arrow Ln in Luling: this little road can be spectacular in good years; there were wildflowers in the fields that looked at peak, but just sprinkled around, well below average
- – IH 10 between US 183 and Tx 80: This stretch of the interstate is usually covered in thick bluebonnets and paintbrush, I was shocked to see virtually no wildflowers, only tall grass. Nothing in fields either.
- – Tx 80 from IH 10 to Belmont: very few roadside blooms, saw a few fields with groundsel, but nothing else
- – Alt US 90 from Belmont to Seguin: This stretch of road usually has bluebonnets and paintbrush and occasional fields heavily covered in wildflowers. This year, very few roadside, and fields were just “peppered”. The flowers in the fields looked near peak. Again, grasses were high, but on close inspection, I did notice a lot of firewheel and Engelmann daisy plants yet to bloom. So, later spring may be good.
- – Tx 123 south of Seguin: very few wildflowers, phlox is usually common in this area, but it was not this year. The only exception was a pretty nice field in front of the old barn at Fox Trotter Rd, which had nice phlox and groundsel
- – Nockenut Rd: a few fields of groundsel, including one behind a tall game fence that was 10 acres or more, but little else
- – FM 1681 at Nockenut Rd: some bluebonnets in fields, but sparse. This area can have massive displays of paintbrush in good years, I saw NONE this year.
- – CR 437 to CR 434 to CR 421 to CR 427 to FM 3335: I saw one or two yards with Sandyland bluebonnets, that was basically it
- – FM 3335 to CR 417 to US 87: nothing notable
- – US 87 north to Sutherland Springs: another area that is usually good, very few wildflowers along the road, nothing in fields, only green grass
- – FM 539 to Tx 97: pales in comparison to previous years, but there were a few fields with moderate coverage of groundsel and magenta phlox. Also some small fields of Sandyland bluebonnets that were at or near peak. Mostly just tall grass. This was the only road where I actually took a few pictures
- – Tx 97 south to Floresville: again, a stretch of road that is usually good, almost nothing
- – FM 536 east to US 281: few wildflowers roadside, I saw a couple fields of mixed wildflowers, bluebonnets, phlox and groundsel, but nothing worth taking the camera out for. Flowers looked near peak.
- – US 281 north to Loop 1604 to Somerset: lots of grass, few wildflowers
- – Somerset Rd south to Rossville Rd to Benton City Rd west ot Lytle: I’ve seen years were every field along this stretch was covered in wildflowers, mainly Sandyland bluebonnets. This year very little, with only a few yards with phlox and groundsel and a spattering of bluebonnets. Very disappointing. Looked at or near peak.
- – IH 35 from Lytle to Natalia to Devine to Moore: shockingly few wildflowers along the road, just very high grass going to seed. WORST I’ve ever seen this area. What’s more troubling were the numerous fields with tall dead grass from lack of grazing. Where have all the cattle gone? Grazing, mowing or fire are essential to clear the land in way for wildflowers. I saw only a few yards with wildflowers, nothing photogenic.
- – FM 472, FM 3176, and FM 462: again, roads that have been great in previous years, almost nothing. Several of my favorite fields had been plowed under.
See photo at http://www.texaswildflowerpictures.com/update.htm