The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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May 7, 2012

Warm spring forces cancellation of annual iris show

Nearly every year, the Tri-State Iris Society holds its annual iris show on Mother’s Day weekend at Northpark Mall.

The event has been canceled this year. While the blooming of the irises typically coincides with Mother’s Day, which is Sunday, this year the flowers bloomed several weeks too early.

“No one has any flowers left,” said Nicky Mealey, society president. “I had iris blooming in March. It’s really, really strange.”

Longtime member Barbara Knell said she doesn’t remember the iris show ever being canceled because of early blooming, though it sometimes has been canceled because of a cold snap or a bad storm that destroyed blooms.

The iris show is one example of how the warm, frost-free spring has changed the game for plant lovers, farmers, berry pickers and others, and not just in the Four-State Area.

In Washington, D.C., an early bloom for cherry blossoms nearly came too soon for the popular Cherry Blossom Festival. The average peak bloom date is April 4, according to the National Park Service, but this year, with the warm weather, the peak came in late March, more than a week early.

The annual Tulip Time festival in Michigan is looking as if it might be more of a “stem fest” this year after unseasonably warm weather encouraged the flowers to bloom earlier than usual.

In Texas and Oklahoma, the wheat harvest already has started, and the warm winter and spring has pushed up the cutting time in Kansas. Typically, the wheat is ready for cutting in mid to late June, but this year combines could roll in Kansas even before Memorial Day — two to three weeks early.

In Joplin, mid-April is usually the typical time for the last hard freeze, but this year, according to the National Weather Service station in Springfield, that happened March 9-10.

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