Dr. Walter Fick and how fire affects different pastures

(Dr. Walt Fick) We’ve got some previous history in the state of Kansas on fire, particularly on heavier textured soils. Again, at about a mid-March time frame, and that particular year there was a reduction in production that following year, over 65% reduction in forage, and then the second year it was 39%. It took most of two to three years to recover on that type of soil. Those areas were dominated by short grasses. Buffalo grass, Blue grama, maybe a little western wheat grass. The sandy soils I’d like to say more mixed prairie, you’re going to have probably Sudan, blue stem and little blue stem primarily. From what I’ve read in other areas that have dominated with sandy soils, they tend not to be harmed much by fire. At this point in time their growing points, the rhizome is below ground. Assuming we have some soil moisture and rain to get them growing again, I think they’ll recover quite nicely. Still a little concerned though about little blue stem, because it’s a bunch grass. Their growing point is more or less right there at the crown, right at the soil surface. Fire can do a little more damage to it. Although in this case, we may just have to wait and see again, because these fires were moving very quickly. As these plants start their growing season, they’re going to need that subsoil moisture at least to get started. Go back clear to last November, November through the present time, I think some of those areas had maybe anywhere from two to five inches. There might be enough moisture to start, but a lot at things are going to depend on subsequent moisture. Again, I think on those heavier soils situations, I would suspect some reduction in stocking rate may be necessary. And again, that can vary; maybe 25% or more that first year might be something that’d be appropriate. The sandy soils, again because it’s a different plant community, it may be not hurt as much. At least I’m expecting they’re going to recover quicker because of the type of grass species that are on them. If it’s not recovering like we thought it might or should, then indeed we may need to cut back– do some de-stocking.

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