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Vol. 4 | No. 3 | April 2011   

 

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April Management Recommendations

Fire Ecology

  • Continue to conduct prescribed burns as needed.
  • Burning during this month appears to be an effective means of reducing vigor of re-sprouting woody stems, especially on old-field lands.
  • Because it is a dry year, use ignition patterns that result in less intense burns and minimize crown scorch, e.g. spot ignition, lighting flanks into the wind, and using backing fire, instead of strip head fires.
  • Fire weather forecasters are predicting dry conditions through spring so get your burning done early. 
  • Minimize the distance burned along major highway and county road edges in one day, and mop up aggressively. 
  • Be aware of your smoke!!
  • Burning during the growing season promotes native seed production.

Forestry

  • Protect regeneration areas with new seedlings. Put off burning for 1 year where regeneration is needed. 
  • Continue timber stand improvement thinning, hardwood removal and other cultural treatments in forest stands.
  • Conduct timber harvests

Game Bird

  • Supplemental feed at 2 bu/ac/yr in unburned cover to reduce predation and prepare birds for nesting
  • If changing feeding trail, establish summer feed trail
  • Focus on nest predator management as needed (See TTRS web site)
  • April is an excellent month for burning both old field and native ground cover habitats to prepare areas for summer brooding habitats
  • Burn such that burned and unburned areas exist within quail home ranges (about 50 acres)

Land Management

  • Check, freshen-up, or put in fire breaks as needed.
  • Conduct post-burn mowing of targeted problem hardwood areas to encourage grasses.
  • Apply Velparâ to control hardwoods after April 15.
  • Make plans for herbicide control of domestic grasses
  • Conduct soil tests to determine lime and fertilizer rates for summer food plots and dove fields.
  • Plant dove fields
  • Plant duck ponds
  • Begin post burn evaluations

Vertebrate Ecology

  • Monitor gopher tortoise burrows in burned areas.
  • Monitor bluebird boxes.
  • Monitor wood duck boxes.

May Management Recommendations
 
Fire Ecology

  • Continue to conduct prescribed burns as needed.
  • Burning during the growing season promotes native seed production.
  • Choose appropriate conditions and extinguish by sunset to keep smoke off of major roads.

Forestry

  • Conduct longleaf cone and flower crop counts.
  • Where adequate longleaf cone crops are available begin conducting burns to capture seed fall that will occur later in the year. Some regrowth of understory vegetation will lower seed predation.
  • Continue timber stand improvement thinning, hardwood removal and other cultural treatments in forest stands.
  • Conduct timber harvests in suitable areas. Avoid harvesting timber in active Red-cockaded woodpecker nesting areas
  • Retain a few large upland hardwoods in the uplands (5-10 square feet basal area) for Sherman’s fox squirrel.

Game Bird

  • Complete burning of native ground cover areas where quail management is the focus.
  • In areas with few fields on old field land conduct some burns to provide late season brood habitat or to achieve hardwood re-sprout control.
  • Finish post-burn mowing and chopping by 1 June, mowing in areas needing hardwood re-sprout control.
  • Supplemental Feed at 2 bu/ac/yr.
  • Nest predator management if needed, especially important if avian predation has been higher than normal.
  • Complete timbering and clean-up activities on quail management areas.

Land Management

  • After May 15, begin treating cogongrass infestations as weather permits. Can be identified by its inflorescence (white seed heads).
  • Begin planting summer food such as corn, peas and grain sorghum.
  • Apply lime according to soil test results.
  • Begin early herbicide applications.
  • Begin to mow roads.
  • Check water control structures and dikes on managed wetland areas for needed maintenance.
  • Plant dove fields.
  • Plant duck ponds.
  • Plant Chufa fields.

Vertebrate Ecology

  • The Red-cockaded Woodpecker nesting season gets underway in late April in the Red Hills region.  Clear fuels away from cavity trees that have heavy sap build-up before you burn.  Clearing fuels helps to minimize damage to the tree and the nesting site.
  • Installing inserts into pine trees provides valuable nesting habitat for the red-cockaded woodpecker.
  • Sherman’s fox squirrels can be seen digging in the dirt this time of year sniffing around for subterranean fungi (truffles).  The tasty morsels keep squirrels going, but the process also helps the forest by dispersing nitrogen-fixing bacteria over large areas.  Home range estimates for fox squirrels range from 10 to 40 acres, so these squirrels can distribute the fungus over very large areas.
  • Monitor gopher tortoise burrows in burned areas.
  • Monitor bluebird boxes.
  • Monitor wood duck boxes.

June Management Recommendations

Fire Ecology

  • Continue to conduct prescribed burns as needed.
  • Burning during this month appears to be an effective means of reducing vigor of re-sprouting woody stems on sites with native ground cover, less so on old-field lands.
  • Own your smoke! Be aware that smoke can settle in drainages and mix with early morning or evening fog to form a dense “fog” that creates traffic safety issues.
  • Conduct post-burn evaluations to determine success of woody control

Forestry

  • Finish timber harvests and clean up operations by mid to end of June.
  • Avoid having heavy equipment in the woods when soils are wet.
  • Where adequate longleaf cone crops are present continue conducting burns to capture seed fall that will occur later in the year.  Some regrowth of understory vegetation will lower seed predation by providing some cover for seed.

Game Bird

  • Continue to supplemental feed at 1 to 2 bu/ac/yr.  Adjust as necessary given weather conditions. 
  • Nest predator management if needed.
  • Begin to mow roads as needed.
  • Begin herbicide applications for bicolor and bahia grass control.

Land Management

  • Continue treating cogongrass infestations as weather permits.
  • Disk strips to encourage the production of Florida pussley, a highly preferred deer forage.
  • Get soil tests for fall food plots at least once every two years.
  • Continue planting summer food plots.
  • Apply lime according to soil test results.
  • In most parts of Florida, June is usually the last month to plant aeschynomene (joint vetch), to achieve adequate reseeding in November.

Vertebrate Ecology

  • Leaving dead trees or snags provides valuable habitat for cavity nesters.
  • One of the loudest songsters in our Pinewoods this time of year is the elusive Bachman’s Sparrow. This endemic sparrow is abundant on sites burned within the past 12 months, but its numbers can be almost halved on sites coming into a 2-year rough. Bachman’s Sparrow is often thought to have one of the prettiest songs of any songbird, and to hear an example, simply follow this link:  http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/natsci/ornithology/sounds.htm
  • Lots of fledgling birds wandering the woods. Many use small brushy thickets, so hold off on mowing until late August if possible. Also a good time to keep cats in doors.
  • Gopher tortoise nesting reaches a peak in early June. Watch for females laying eggs and consider nest protection and predator-proof fencing.
  • Female free-tailed bats give birth to a single pup from May to June.
  • Pine snakes lay 5–12 large eggs in a burrow during June or July. The young hatch a couple of months later and start to look for mice and other rodents. Tall Timbers research suggests pine snakes are closely associated with longleaf pine/wiregrass sites.
The mission of Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy is to foster exemplary land stewardship through research, conservation and education.