Extension notes is written by K-State Extension of Harvey County extension agents Scott Eckert, Susan Jackson and Ryan Flaming. They focus on horticulture and agriculture.
This is the time of year you want to start thinking about prescribed burning. Timing of the burn is a critical element for obtaining the desired response. The kinds, amounts and nutritional content of various plants in a rangeland area can be changed by fire. The presence and abundance of plant species, forage yields, and range condition are all affected by the time of burning.
To control or reduce undesired plants, they should be burned at the weakest point in their growth stage. In order to damage a particular plant, burning must occur when the plant is actively growing or has buds above the soil surface, which can be destroyed. For perennial plants, the plant's food reserves should be at or near their lowest point in their annual growth cycle, so regrowth would be difficult. Perennial plants that have bud zones below the level of the fire readily resprout, normally with an increase in stem numbers. Annuals, that have their growth point above the soil surface, will be damaged or destroyed by a fire that occurs during their growth period.
Fire also can reduce the amount of undesirable grasses. Low-producing cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and annual bromes, are greatly reduced by a late-spring fire. They are actively growing at the time of the burn and have difficulty re-growing after the burn.
According to a study done at KSU the usual time of year to burn pastures in Harvey County is April 20-25. That is also depending on if warm spring temperatures are behind or ahead of schedule for this time of year.
— Ryan Flaming is a Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. Agriculture is his specialty.