Big year for cottonwoods leads to white ‘flurries’ across Wichita

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 11:22 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - From clogged air conditioners to runny noses, you’ve probably noticed more cotton than usual floating in the air this summer. Though it’s June, at first glance, it might look like the middle of winter in some spots as white flurries fill the air throughout Wichita.

“It’s kind of fund sometimes watching it snow in June or July,” said Wichita resident Bruce Meyers whose backyard is filled with cottonwoods.

Meyers’ backyard is home to more than 20 cottonwood trees. When it comes to the “white flurries,” he said this year is unlike any he’s seen before.

“The last two years, I remarked there really wasn’t any, but this year, for some reason, it’s really bad this year.”

And it’s creating quite the chore for Meyers, having to blow out his air conditioner on a daily basis, if not more. He’s far from the only one in town faced with the task.

“I am getting a lot of calls where people can’t figure out why their air conditioner is not running the same as in the past,” said air conditioner repair shop owner Rick Ness. “I suggest they take a look at it and they call me back and tell me it’s completely covered, it looks like a sheet of cotton.”

Ness said the cotton is making for some busy days.

“We’ve had some bad years, but this is hands down the worst year we’ve had in the last 22 years,” Ness said.

So, what’s behind the “flurries?”

“When the cottonwood flowers get knocked off by frost, you don’t have cotton that year. This year, that didn’t happen, so we got three or four years’ worth of built-up food value in those trees,” explained Brady Nursery owner Cathy Brady. “That’s why we are seeing so many seeds and so much cotton.”

While it’s a big year for cottonwoods, it’s a big pain for some.

“It’s irritating,” Meyers said. “I am sweeping up my garage daily. I am having to leave my windows rolled up in my vehicles.”

Copyright 2021 KWCH. All rights reserved.