Seasonal burns are important to forest and wildlife management, and growing season burns are one of the best forest and wildlife management tools that can be employed for property management.
Unlike winter burns, a strategy employed more for aesthetics and fuel reduction, growing season burns enable undesirable trees and plants to be attacked more effectively when foliage is developing and transpiration is in full gear. The potential for killing or setting back undesirables in the under story is far better than winter burns. The picture above shows an old friend setting a flanking fire during a winter burn but firing techniques are the same.
Some lower gulf coastal plain sites are hard to burn in the winter due to dispersed fuels to carry a fire and heavy upland hardwood leaf matter which does not burn well. This tends to produce more smoke which is the greatest risk in prescribed burning to start with, in my opinion.
During the growing season the daily temperature is higher and humidity levels do not vary like they tend to do in February and March. The green foliage tends to hold down the fire thus creating greater resident times for the fire to stay on the unwanted species longer.
In some rougher spots that haven’t been burned for a while it may take several burns but eventually the under and mid stories can be altered. There will be great change in the herbaceous layer and grasses and plants that are more beneficial to wildlife will emerge. Predators will have a much harder time threatening turkeys and small game and there will definitely be a reduction of risk in the event of a stand killing wild fire event.
What are your experiences with growing season burns? Do you plan on doing more of them in the future. I know we are! Let me hear from you!