The months-long drought may soon impact fall allergy sufferers in Nebraska. Agronomist Robert Hartzler says the weather has a direct impact on pollen counts that trigger allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny noses and red, teary eyes.
Hartzler says any time we don’t get rain for a while, it allows the pollen to be released in the atmosphere and it hangs around for a longer period of time.
Ragweed traditionally hasn’t grown very well among row crops, but the plants are adapting to Nebraska’s cornfields and they’re becoming more widespread. Hartzler says it may get worse in future years.
“There is some evidence that with climate change, the ragweeds are better adapted to the warmer temperatures than other plants, so there is some evidence to suggest that pollen counts could increase in the future because of the increasing temperatures we’re expected to see,” Hartzler says.
He says the amount of pollen in the air has also been boosted by higher temperatures this year.
“They’re higher earlier in the year because of the summer we’ve had,” Hartzler says. “The ragweed started growing earlier because of the warm temperatures in the spring. So we have high counts earlier this year than typical.”
It may be just the beginning. Hartzler says there’s evidence global warming may be promoting ragweed growth. Relief for allergy sufferers isn’t likely until the first frost.