How often should I burn my fields?

Prescribed Fire June 04, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

When managing fields or openings for wildlife that use herbaceous openings, burn frequently enough to prevent plant succession and not allow woody species to dominate the area. This may be every 1-3 years. However, many wildlife species use woody or brushy cover. When managing for these species, the fire-return interval will be longer to maintain desirable woody plant composition and structure. Burning every 4-7 years in the eastern US with low to moderate fire intensity will usually maintain a woodland mosaic with scattered trees, shrubs, brambles, and a herbaceous understory. These intervals are recommended if annual precipitation is greater than 30 inches. In more arid regions, the interval will be longer. For more general information, see “How often should I conduct a prescribed fire?”

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.