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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - March 03, 2010

From: Burton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Can you produce hay and bluebonnets on the same field?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Hi - We have a field that produces wild bluebonnets every spring. Is it possible to grow and bail hay in this field and not kill off our bluebonnets? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Yes. 

Bluebonnet seeds sprout in late summer and fall, grow as rosettes flat on the ground through the winter and bolt (grow tall and flower) in March and April.  They quickly form seeds which they scatter in May or early June.

It is a good idea to mow down the dead tops of your bluebonnets as soon as they have released their seeds.  They'll be brown and unsightly by then anyway.  Given some summer rains, you should be able to harvest a hay crop off of your field in the fall.  So long as you mow again before the bluebonnets begin to really spring up in March (you don't want bluebonnets in your hay), you can probably harvest a second, winter crop then.

Bluebonnets do not compete particularly well with grasses - that's why displays on heavily-grazed pastures are often spectacular - so they'll appreciate the hay harvests.  For the most part, they stand up well to being run over by farm equipment so long as they're not mowed down.

 

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