Tom's Blog

Monday, May 21, 2012

Good time for sumac control

Those following this blog know that we have been working hard to eradicate sumac from our prairies and savannas. This requires multiple techniques, including:
  • Basal bark treatment
  • Cut and treat
  • Spot spraying resprouts after burns
  • Spot spraying root suckers (after burns or any time they appear)
The details of all of these can be found on previous blog posts.

Monitoring sumac-prone areas is important in any control method. Yesterday I spent some time monitoring sumac areas at Black Earth Rettenmund Prairie. These are areas that had been located and mapped in 2010 and 2011 by GPS. They are areas that have had a long history of sumac invasion and hence are targets for present eradication methods.

I spent several hours in one burn unit spraying all the resprouts and root suckers that I could find. I plan to return on Tuesday with our regular crew and try to finish the job.

It deserves emphasis that frequent prescribed burns are essential for sumac control, as they are for control of other woody vegetation in prairies and savannas. Burns top kill woody vegetation and "set back the clock" so that only small amounts of herbicide are needed to spray resprouts. Burning followed by spraying is the most cost-effective way of controlling brush.

If anyone needs convincing, the photo below should help. It was taken Saturday at Curtis Prairie, one of the oldest and most famous prairie restorations in the world. For some reason, this prairie has not been burned lately. Some parts are now almost too late to burn without first doing major brush removal. When brush such as sumac becomes this dense, the grasses that are the principal fuels of prairie burns get shaded out, so that fire will not carry. This prairie is in danger of disappearing!
Sumac clone taking over a corner of Curtis Prairie


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