Tom's Blog

Monday, July 30, 2012

Amazing what a little bit of rain will do!

At Pleasant Valley Conservancy we missed some of the rains that passed through southern Wisconsin but we did get about 1.5" total spread out over about a week. This helped a lot and the prairie grasses have snapped back.

Our most critical area was the south-facing slope, which not only receives the full blazing sun, but is very rocky and has very thin soils. The principal grass is little blue stem, which with the thin soils is quite shallowly rooted. Before the rain, many of the bunches were completely dry and brown.

During the later stages of the drought I marked some of these seemingly "dead" bunches with flags and yesterday I checked them again to see how they had responded to the rain. Several of the larger bunches were now completely green! The brown leaves, of course, are still there, but completely crowded out by all the new growth.

Little blue stem also looks quite good now in the savanna areas. Also, Indian grass has bounced back. In fact, I saw several Indian grass plants that had started to flower.

Considering that southern Wisconsin is still in serious drought conditions (at least as far as agriculture is concerned), it is gratifying to see how quickly the prairies have responded to a little rain.


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