AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ragweed allergy sufferers are still dealing with this pollen as we are halfway through November. It really is not all that surprising given the dreaded weed still pollinates during this month.
Typically, this pollen makes its presence known starting in September, although there have been years where the weed started pollinating in August. Ragweed usually peaks in late September to early October. But while the counts have been relatively low this month, the fact remains that it’s still in the area.
Our hot summer, where temperatures were above normal much of the season, continued in fall with most temperatures warmer than normal. So, the ragweed is lasting longer as we continue to see low to moderate levels daily.
It should be noted ragweed thrives on warm weather, high humidity and post-sunrise breezes. It knows no specific part of a region, although much of it grows in rural areas. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t grow in urban areas because we know it does.
So, when will it be out of here? We definitely see the end of the ragweed season when the first frost happens. Locally, that has yet to happen in Austin but it has happened in other parts of our viewing area.
This is not the best news for people with an allergy to ragweed. It means that even in low doses, they will continue to be impacted by the weed-producing pollen.
And, it’s not just Central Texans affected by the dreaded pollen. It’s found in most U.S. states where, for just about all areas, it’s the dominant allergen during the fall season. Just one ragweed plant can produce up to 1,000,000,000 pollen grains when dispersed by the wind.
When the air is “polluted” by the ragweed pollen, there are foods that you normally wouldn’t think would cause problems. Bananas, mangos, lettuce, melons, mint and zucchini, along with milk can cause a person to get allergic reactions. Those reactions are pretty similar to those experienced by other allergy sufferers, including sneezing, nasal congestion, headaches and eye irritation.
Is the warming climate a contributor to this? Absolutely. The ongoing record heat continued into this fall season. As the heat continues into October and, now, November, the country experiences fewer freeze days. And, it’s worse for us because we don’t see too many freeze days before January.
The other factor locally that works against ragweed sufferers is the lack of rain. Ragweed does not need a great deal of water in which to grow. The ongoing drought combined with the hot summer temperatures and the warmer-than-normal first half of fall, allows for the ragweed pollen to be airborne and to germinate longer.
So, the question ragweed sufferers need an answer to is when will it end. The opinion here is ultimately we will have that first frost of the season when the temperature falls to 36°. Note we’re not speaking of the first freeze (32°) but the first frost. Once that happens, then we can say goodbye to the ragweed.
By the way, what makes this whole thing even worse is that we are not too far away from the worst of the pollen seasons. Cedar, which normally begins in December, can, and has had, years when it gets an early start around Thanksgiving.