Finally, on the weekend of October 8, Placedo, TX received upwards of 3 inches of rain. This was dearly needed by the cattle ranchers and the vegetation, close to reaching its last gasp. The rain also lifted the burn ban, at least temporarily, and got me thinking about prescribed burning.
Last winter, I believe we waited too long to burn and on that particular day the humidity was too high, inhibiting the brush from carrying a consistent flame. That was early March, and I hope that this year we are able to set a torch in January/February.
Fire is an excellent tool for range management, for it promotes native cool season grasses (which prefer such fires) and keeps woody vegetation in check. In our particular case, we are interested in spurring lush grasses for cattle, while thinning unwanted woody plants in certain areas. We have burned these fields during the past 15 years to mostly control McCartney Rose (Rose Hedge), leaving the fields to grow back after the fire was out. This simplistic method is effective for up to 2 years, but beyond that the Rose Hedge will begin for grow back with a vengeance, often out-competing the desired grasses.
Through the practice of planting food plots for deer management, I think we have unintentionally discovered a new tool to fight against the Rose Hedge. In the areas where we have disced soil bed in preparation for such food plots, five years later these fields are nearly void of any Rose Hedge. This observation leads me to the idea of discing a field after burning the vegetation. The disc aerates the soil, stimulating new forb and grass growth, which in turn will benefit wildlife and cattle. I believe that this disturbance of the soil and exposure up of the rose hedge roots causes the plant to die and prevents rapid regrowth.
Currently, we have a 100 acre section that is prepped for burning, and I hope that we are able to experiment with this new idea on a larger scale. In order for this practice to be beneficial to both wildlife and cattle, I believe that burning should occur every 3-4 years and, if effective, be followed by discing every 9-12 years.