Tom's Blog

Saturday, March 24, 2012

This warm weather! Too late to burn?

Lots of prairie plants are already up but it is not too late to burn.

Early species such as golden Alexanders, shooting star, pasque flower, prairie smoke, pussy toes, and violets, will certainly be set back, but their roots and underground dormant buds should survive burns undamaged just as they survive grazing.

Despite the green, the fuel from last year is still there, and should carry a fire well, given regular burn conditions. The main problem caused by the excess green will be smoke management, so that careful attention to wind direction and air mixing height may be necessary where highways or residential areas intrude on burns.

Most of the green visible in prairies now is due to nonnative grasses such as smooth brome or bluegrass, which are undesirable anyway.

Burns are so important in prairie and savanna management that they must be done even if early floral displays are affected. Without burns, shrubs both native (brambles, sumac) and nonnative (buckthorn, honeysuckle) will get a head start and will either require expensive brush control work later or will make it more difficult to burn next year. One should never let shrubs get a head start, especially in recently restored prairies or savannas.

The photo shows golden Alexanders and zig-zag goldenrod, already up on March 23, about three weeks earlier than previous years.

Although long-range weather prediction is difficult, it seems likely that this unusual warm spell will be followed by at least one or more hard freezes. Don't put away your long underwear yet!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home