Managing Forest Resources
Frequent fire, and periodic thinning of the forest are the 2 most important management techniques to maintain a healthy groundcover and forest. If wildlife is the objective, thinning to 40-80 basal area, depending on habitat type, is necessary to allow adequate sunlight to reach the ground cover. In the Red Hills region, this equates to a thinning approximately every 7-10 years.
Herbicides are used sparingly at Tall Timbers to maintain a high quality of ground cover; a mix of 33% grass, 33% forbs (weeds) and 33% woody vegetation is the goal at Tall Timbers. As with prescribed burning, a prescription should be written for any herbicide application, and some form of evaluation should be done. This prescription should include: herbicide formulations, application techniques, rates, timing, and special considerations. For example, Arsenal® is a selective herbicide that kills hardwoods, most grasses and some forbs; however, it does not kill pines or legumes. Garlon®4 is another selective herbicide that will kill hardwoods and pines as well as most forbs (weeds); however, it does not kill most grasses. There are many other herbicides on the market and each has its uses (i.e. site preparation, release, herbaceous weed control and mid-story control). Application techniques include a boomless sprayer, hand sprayers, injection, cut stump, and basal treatments.
Disking is primarily done in the fall and winter. The timing of disking will determine what suite of plant species will germinate. Past research has shown that fall/winter disking will produce better brood habitat for quail and turkeys. From February through April, disking is also used to create fire breaks.
Mowing and Roller Chopping
Mowing is done after burning and in the fall. In general, mowing stimulates grasses and reduces forbs (weeds) and woody re-sprouts. After burning, areas that did not burn, due to erosion gullies, plant species present or downed trees, are mowed to stimulate the grasses, which increase fuels for future burns. Roller chopping is often used in the fall. Chopping stimulates forbs and reduces grasses and woody re-sprouts.
Exotic invasive plants and animals must be controlled. Cogon grass, kudzu, Japanese climbing fern, and bamboo, to name just a few, are difficult to control and will take repeat treatments—typically herbicide treatments..
Invasive cogon grass in bloom