No question rainfall is critical to a quail crop. South Tx research (Caesar Kleberg wildlife Research Institute) showed that 94% of the variation in age ratios of bobwhites was explained by Apr-Aug rainfall. Similar research summarized by Brad Kubecka in his M.S. thesis reported that number is 74% at RPQRR.
The graphic here is from the Drought Monitor (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu); likely the next one released will show “relief” to western OK and S. Tx. Meanwhile, here at the Ranch, we’re still mired in drought, despite some “cotton showers” received over the past 3 weeks. Our dove food plots (winter wheat and sunflower) were a total bust (worst “crop” of winter wheat I can ever remember). We planted them to browntop millet for the summer (a short maturation period of 65 days) but they are struggling. Habitat conditions on the Ranch still look “decent” (no grazing to exacerbate the effects of drought). See reports below for our call counts and dummy nest results collected in June. Our small mammals (rodents) are down about 98% from last summer . . . doesn’t bode well.
Our nesting effort to date has been “delayed” (at best) to “woeful.” We’ve got only 7 of our radio-marked hens incubating as of July 1, and 6 of those in only the past two weeks. At that pace, 2018 will go down as worse than 2011 (only 11 nests produced that summer; no chicks survived).
Many times, the 4th of July tends to stimulate some rainfall; let’s hope so.