For landowners with pine plantation that has been thinned at least once or twice and has an open canopy, it is time to starting thinking about burning. Prescribed burns are generally conducted in late winter and early spring (with a few exceptions). Burning reduces undesirable woody vegetation in pine stands and makes way for growth of early successional (ES) vegetation. ES vegetation includes, depending on soil type, species such as green briar, dewberry, trumpet creeper, beggar lice, partridge pea, and lots of other plants that are beneficial to wildlife. If your goal is primarily to enhance habitat for Whitetail Deer, a three- to four-year burn rotation is recommended. If better turkey or bird habitat is your target, the stands should be burned more frequently.
The good way to start is to have The Timber-Land Agency develop a burn map of your place. This is basically an aerial photograph that outlines and segments your pine stands. This way you can view the land from the air and plan the specific locations of the burns to optimize your habitat diversity. For a three-year rotation you would burn about 1/3 of your pine stands each year. With the help of aerial photography you can divide and separate each burn to give your property a “checker board” look from the air. This will enhance habitat diversity and increase edge habitat, which is perfect for deer, turkey, and small game.
So if you are looking for a relatively inexpensive way to enhance your wildlife habitat, call The Timber-Land Agency today. Jeff Taylor, Registered Forester, is a Certified Burn Manager. He knows the steps necessary to coordinate with contractors to set up fire lanes and will oversee the entire process, so the burn is done safely and effectively.
Natural resource managers recognize the importance of intensive forest management, especially in pine stands. Such management increases timber productivity, enhances biological diversity, maximizes financial returns, and provides for greater recreational opportunities. A management activity of growing importance is the use of silvicultural herbicides for controlling hardwood competition in mid-rotation pine plantations.
A “mid-rotation” release uses the careful application of selective herbicides to control undesirable and competing vegetation within pine stands. Specifically targeting woody species of plants that take away valuable moisture and nutrients. This practice has been shown to increase timber volumes, in pine stands, as much as 25 percent and show a real rate of return of 11 percent annually.
Timing of the application is essential in maximizing the benefits. The best results have been realized when the mid rotation release is done within a year after first thinning. The optimal management scenario is to implement a prescribed burn on the treated area within a year of the herbicide application. This allows desirable and palatable forage to flourish for an array of wildlife species.
Existing studies demonstrate that pine growth is modified by release in at least two ways. First, release increases height growth of the treated stand. Second, release increases basal area over time compared to a non-released stand. Average stand diameter therefore increases, as does merchantable product volumes. Greater volumes of higher per-unit value products also become available at an earlier age making this silvicultural practice a financially attractive investment over a wide range of conditions.
By controlling low quality, hardwood brush -without targeting the legumes wildlife use for food – selective herbicide application makes your land more accessible and more attractive to hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife. As every forest landowner knows, that’s a clear path to increased income – generating and increasing land value while you wait for harvest.