Burning-Prickly Pear-Grazing Management

Burned this pasture this past week with a relatively cool burn. (Wind 5 to 6 mph, Temperature 62 degrees, Humidity 30%) These were not the conditions desired, but when practicing the use of prescribed burns, capturing the perfect conditions is a difficult task. The heavy cover of prickly pear is evident and as the picture shows, the fire effect on the pear is significant and acceptable. The considerable density of grass cover has resulted in uniform fire effect over most of the pasture. That dense grass cover and the resulting dense root systems of the grass will be direct competition to the injured pear and with the continued use of a short graze-long rest grazing program should result in considerable mortality of the pear.

The Red Berry Cedar had little flaring of the leaves but will most likely have significant defoliation over time. This defoliation will result in many of the Red Berry’s being top killed but will all resprout from base in short order. (Not a total loss of fire effect as these resprouting Cedars will be suppressed for a few years.) Conversely if the cedar had been Blue Berry much of it would have been killed.

Fire is a good tool to be used for rangeland reclamation, but care must be taken to always keep in mind that it is only one of the tools in the toolbox and is not a cure within itself. Grazing management should always be the first tool used when looking to manage the rangeland and the environment that is so important to us all.


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