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Crop Circle Distribution Patterns

A look at the distribution of crop circles, and correcting media myths about the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Crop Circle numbers, year by year.

I'm often asked how the numbers of crop circles change from year to year and month to month. The most common question being, "Aren't the crop circles late appearing this year?"

There can be a number of different variables for this, mainly governed by local weather conditions such as cold or wet early months to the crop growing season. Late frosts can also affect the growth cycle of crops, so there is no hard and fast rule as to when the first crop circles of the year may be discovered.

Generally, the first formations appear in about the second or third week in April, in Oilseed rape (or Canola). The season generally gets under way in mid to late May with the first formations being reported in Barley. Wheat doesn't generally ripen until late June, which is when the majority of crop circles start getting reported, continuing through July and August, then dropping off with the harvest towards the end of August and beginning of September.

[image distrib.png]
Crop Circle Distribution in the UK
Month by month

The chart on the left shows the numbers of crop circles reported for each month between the years 1996 to 2003.

The only obvious trend is that the number of crop circles appearing in May has been steadily declining since a peak in 1998.

[image distrib2.png]
Crop Circle Distribution in the UK
Year by year

By stacking the results for each month we can see the cumulative total number of crop circles in the UK for the years 1996-2003.

Numbers seem to average around the 100 per year mark. Dropping since a peak of 148 in 1999. For comparison, there were 204 reported formations in 1992, which was claimed to be the 'golden year' of crop circles.

Foot and Mouth Disease 2001 - correcting the media myths

There has been much disinformation put about by the media, claiming that the 2001 season only really took off after the re-opening of the countryside after the Foot and Mouth disease closures. As you can see from the diagram above (which I created for this purpose), there was not a statistically significant change in the percentage of crop formations reported. Indeed, there was one reported crop circle (inside a Foot and Mouth restricted area at Winchester Hill in Hampshire) reported in May, and two formations in Wiltshire which appeared inside restricted areas. It only appears to have been 1999 which got off to an early start with nine formations reported during April.

May saw nine formations reported, which was only down by two on the 2000 season and again more than years prior to 1998. June saw 23 formations reported - exactly the same number as the 2000 season, and at least 10 more than 1996 and 1997 seasons.

July saw the opening of most of the countryside, but we did not suddenly see a leap in the number of formations. Indeed, the total reported for July was 32, which was actually down considerably on the 58 reported for 2000 and 48 reported for 1999. August was also a relatively quiet month with 36 formations reported - again down on 2000 (39 reported).

[image spreadsheet.png]

If we look at the number of crop circles which were reported before 1st July as a percentage of the total formations for the year, then we have 33 formations for 2001 which is 32.4% of the total number of formations. Comparing to the 2000 season we had 37 formations reported by 1st July which was only 27.6% of the total for the year. Comparing with previous years by the 1st of July we'd had 17.9% (1996), 25.5% (1997), 49.5% (1998) and 43.9% (1999) of the formations for the year. Without going back before 1996 we can immediately see that the 2001 season was not statistically lower than previous years, indeed being busier than 2000, which the media enthusiastically reported as a 'busy year'.

If you see the media spreading misinformation and untrue stories, I urge you to write to the relevant person in order to correct their mistake, and prevent the myth spreading further. Do not let them get away with it without correction!

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