Burning in the growing season

Growing-season burns are conducted when warm-season herbaceous plants are actively growing, which is summer to early fall in the Southern Great Plains. Although prescribed fire is a common management practice on many private and pub­lic lands, it is primarily used during the dormant season, particularly just before spring green-up. This is because burning is of­ten used to promote livestock production, and growing-season burns are often viewed as consuming forage that could be grazed by livestock. However, growing-season fire can be used in livestock operations to extend highly palatable forage later into the year.

Additionally, there is a misconception that growing-season burns are not possi­ble due to green vegetation or insufficient fuel. Yet, with sufficient litter, fires can carry even during the summer months. Another reason land managers do not consider growing-season burns is due to the belief that burning during this period will damage key plants and negatively alter vegetation composition. However, this is been dis­pelled by research.

Historically, fires have occurred throughout the year; even today they continue to ignite at varying times of the year throughout Oklahoma and North America. His­torical fire accounts show that lightning-set fires in many regions of the U.S. occurred during the growing season, and Native Americans ignited fires in nearly all months with a majority in the late summer. This extension circular addresses reasons for conducting growing-season fire, effects of these fires, when they might be ap­propriate, and how to conduct them.

View Burning in the Growing Season Fact Sheet PDF >