Warm Weather & Prescribed Burning

Lots of woods are on fire across Thomas County. The sap is rising in the hardwood trees, and it’s time to get these under control. At the same time, it has been getting warmer and drier. We’ve been about 4 weeks without rain now. The temperature in the 80s has essentially put us ahead of our growing schedule. This can get hot on some of our pine trees. I talked with UGA Extension Forester Dr. David Moorhead yesterday, and he went over some good points to consider when burning at this time:

  • Fuel on the Ground – We really need to consider how dry we are, especially if you haven’t burned in a few years. If your managing timber alone and haven’t burned in a few years, you may have lots of rough build up on site. This can burn hot and scorcth trees. For these sites, it’ll be better to wait for a rain. Dr. Moorhead looked at a stand in one county where 100% of the trees were scorched. If you’re managing for quail, and burn every year, you won’t have as much litter on the ground. We’re safer in this scenario.
  • Natural Firebreaks – Check your natural firebreaks, like wetlands. Even these could be dry. I was with a farmer yesterday looking at corn, and he mentioned how many fields they’ve planted this year that normally would be too wet to plant right now.
  • Ips Beetles – Our beetle attacks have been worse this season because of the drought last year. These trees are under stress already. If you have a CURRENT beetle attack, Dr. Moorhead recommends to not burn. This will further stress those trees. This can affect our larger stands on plantations where thousands of acres are involved. How do you know if the beetle attack is current? If you see a group of dead tress (3-10) with pitch tubes on the bark, you need to think hard about burning. It is true that once symptoms of the attack show up, the Ips beetles are gone. But, if you are on a large track of land, the beetles maybe right around the corner. For more on Ips Engraver Beetles, look at this former blog post.
  • Worker Safety – When it is this hot and dry, worker safety is very important. Be careful not to get dehydrated. Working  conditions will be hotter, and fires too may move fast.
  • Burn Permits – Mostly certainly get your burn permit. Also, talk with the Georgia Forestry Commission. They can help with analyzing current conditions and determining if burning is safe now.
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