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Heavy Rains Could Trigger Massive Poppy Bloom

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California's rainy winter is already bearing fruit (er, flowers). The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve has passed the minimum rain threshold of seven inches needed to trigger a massive poppy bloom.

"We have reached the minimum amount of rain the poppies need, but there are many other factors that can still affect them such as late freezes or early heat waves," the reserve posted to its website. "If all goes well, we expect the bloom to start in early to mid-March and last until mid-April or later."

"We need the rains to continue on a regular basis to maintain the bloom," Jean Rhyne of the California State Park system told the San Francisco Chronicle. "That's really what they need. With the past years of drought, there isn't a lot of moisture built up in the soil. If we'd had several years of good rain and enough moisture content in the soil, the plants would be growing early enough to carry them through a freeze or heat wave. The roots needs to be deep enough for them to tolerate extreme conditions."

Last year, after a freak (read: once-in-a-century) rain storm, Death Valley experienced a similar bloom. However, the wildflowers that blossom there are desert gold sunflowers, notch-leaved phacelia, gravel ghosts, and indian paintbrush.

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"In years' past, we spot that we have enough rain, we spot that conditions are perfect, we publicize that we're going to have a great bloom and people make plans and then something happens at the last minute," Rhyne continued, notes the Chronicle. "We really can't predict how good the bloom is going to be because there are so many factors out of our control."

For more locations to see wildflower blooms, check out Saddleback Butte State Park (east of Lancaster) and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (northeast of San Diego).