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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know the first day of fall is Wednesday, however I am looking for advice on "Best practices of prepping a Coastal Bermuda patch going into Spring... I am going to do some controlled burning in the spring. I am looking for information of timing and order of the below and any other suggestions as well.

  1. Prescribed Burning
  2. Aeration and chain harrowing
  3. Fertilization timing
  4. Soil testing

From an article they suggest the following:

Prescribed burning during the dormant period prior to spring growth will remove excess dead forage; warm the soil; destroy some insects, winter weeds, and weedy grasses; and promote faster greenup. Disadvantages include fire hazards, the need for a burning permit, baring the soil for possible erosion, and removing protection from late freezes. Timing is critical and must be done after weeds have emerged but before bermudagrass greenup. Waiting too long delays bermudagrass regrowth and allows for emerging weeds to outgrow the grass. A suggested time for burning is about 1 week prior to the last average frost date.

Therefore from the Farmers Almanac the average last frost date for Sealy Texas is February 18th.

My questions:

  1. I am questioning 1 week before average frost would be February 11th? Seems early to me
  2. When is the best time for Aeration and chain harrowing? Before the burn or after? Would aerating before a burn expose the roots to heat and damage?
  3. Soil testing? In the fall? At what point after the burn, for I am assuming the soil will change after the burn?

FYI, I have never done a prescribed burn before, however I am very fortunate to have a good friend who is a retired Fire Marshall who is going to show me the correct way it's done.

Thanks and be safe!

Mark

 

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I agree, I like to burn the fields about a week before last frost......that can vary accordingly. Sometimes I'm late, sometimes early....never on time :(

Lime application......now

Disc or aeration I like to do right about first sign of green up......

Soil testing....now and in spring

Hth
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I agree, I like to burn the fields about a week before last frost......that can vary accordingly. Sometimes I'm late, sometimes early....never on time :(
Lime application......now
Disc or aeration I like to do right about first sign of green up......
Soil testing....now and in spring
Hth
What benefit is the lime application? How many pounds per acre? I'm assuming it's granular?

Thanks!
 

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What benefit is the lime application? How many pounds per acre? I'm assuming it's granular?

Thanks!
Lime is to correct the soil pH... you need a soil test before you make any decisions about liming the field to correct pH, and should as well to determine your soil fertility and come up with a fertilizer recommendation to get the best bang for your buck on fertilizer... just throwing it out there is sorta like throwing money out there without really knowing what's going on, you're likely to lose it...

Prescribed burning can be an effective tool, BUT, you'll need a decent "fuel load" to get a decent burn. Anything less than "boot deep" standing dry material is not likely to burn very well, if at all. Of course, you know what the weather patterns are around here in February (I'm down at Needville south of Rosenberg) and getting dry enough conditions for a good burn in February might be a challenge. If you've never done one before, I strongly recommend you get into contact with your county extension agent-- I attended a controlled burn clinic a number of years ago where the rancher and the county agent worked hand in hand to put on the program and conduct the controlled burn. They might be interested in assisting you and putting on a clinic to train other farmers at the same time. If not, I'm sure they have resources that will help you.

The main thing is to ensure that the burn doesn't get away from you. Wind and environmental conditions need to be right, sufficient firebreaks disked up and vegetation shredded down in adjacent areas to prevent the fire from "jumping" the firebreaks, etc all need to be considered. Also, the field shape, fuel load, and conditions will play a role in what type of fire to set-- a backburn (lighting the fire on the downwind end of the field and let it burn forward into the wind), frontburn (lighting the fire off at the upwind side of the field and allowing it to burn downwind, with the wind, which the wind "pushes" the fire and makes it burn much hotter and faster, but also increases the risk of it "getting away from you"), or a combination of the two.

Hope this helps! OL JR :)
 

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What benefit is the lime application? How many pounds per acre? I'm assuming it's granular?
Thanks!
Yes it is....several different types available, your coop will tell you what type is located close....generally it's the most cost effective thing you can do for your fields, if your soil is acidic as ours....

Amount depends on soil tests and target ph.....
It's important to know that top dressing lime takes a while to migrate into the soil. I may apply lime twice a season, once in the fall and once in the spring.....usually always apply 1 ton per acre for cost reasons, generally about $30 a ton here with 7.50 spread charge. When using the field for hay, copious amounts of "N" may be used....."N", depending on the source, can really eat into the PH, if not used for hayin, just grazin, lime applications will not be as great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Lime is to correct the soil pH... you need a soil test before you make any decisions about liming the field to correct pH, and should as well to determine your soil fertility and come up with a fertilizer recommendation to get the best bang for your buck on fertilizer... just throwing it out there is sorta like throwing money out there without really knowing what's going on, you're likely to lose it...

Prescribed burning can be an effective tool, BUT, you'll need a decent "fuel load" to get a decent burn. Anything less than "boot deep" standing dry material is not likely to burn very well, if at all. Of course, you know what the weather patterns are around here in February (I'm down at Needville south of Rosenberg) and getting dry enough conditions for a good burn in February might be a challenge. If you've never done one before, I strongly recommend you get into contact with your county extension agent-- I attended a controlled burn clinic a number of years ago where the rancher and the county agent worked hand in hand to put on the program and conduct the controlled burn. They might be interested in assisting you and putting on a clinic to train other farmers at the same time. If not, I'm sure they have resources that will help you.

The main thing is to ensure that the burn doesn't get away from you. Wind and environmental conditions need to be right, sufficient firebreaks disked up and vegetation shredded down in adjacent areas to prevent the fire from "jumping" the firebreaks, etc all need to be considered. Also, the field shape, fuel load, and conditions will play a role in what type of fire to set-- a backburn (lighting the fire on the downwind end of the field and let it burn forward into the wind), frontburn (lighting the fire off at the upwind side of the field and allowing it to burn downwind, with the wind, which the wind "pushes" the fire and makes it burn much hotter and faster, but also increases the risk of it "getting away from you"), or a combination of the two.

Hope this helps! OL JR :)
JR,

thanks for the advice! I am planning on burning in February with the assistance of the retired Fire Marshall from Fort Bend County, so we should be okay. I do like your suggestion of contacting the Ag center, which I will. The north line of my hay fields are on FM1952, so we are going to start the burn on the South end with a North wind, to keep the smoke out of the FM road and for a slower hotter burn. I will disc as well for the fire breaks! I am excited about the burn since I have never done it before and winter will be almost over as well!

Thanks,

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
we usually put out a ton of line per acre on sandy land.
Burning: around March 15
Gopher posion and aeration: right after burning
Fertilizer: when the time is right. Generally after Easter.
Did you say Golfer or Gopher poison? Where in Texas are those critters! Damn!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes it is....several different types available, your coop will tell you what type is located close....generally it's the most cost effective thing you can do for your fields, if your soil is acidic as ours....

Amount depends on soil tests and target ph.....
It's important to know that top dressing lime takes a while to migrate into the soil. I may apply lime twice a season, once in the fall and once in the spring.....usually always apply 1 ton per acre for cost reasons, generally about $30 a ton here with 7.50 spread charge. When using the field for hay, copious amounts of "N" may be used....."N", depending on the source, can really eat into the PH, if not used for hayin, just grazin, lime applications will not be as great.
Thanks! I'll be digging up soil samples this weekend!
 

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In regards of prescribed burning, I would recommend joining the local prescribed burn association. In your case, it would be South Central Texas Prescribed Burn Association. The association can provide a wealth of information and resources and can help and guide you in regards to a burn plan, insurance concerns, etc..

One of the directors of that association is Larry Joe Doherty and for those that don't remember, Larry Joe was the judge of the show "Texas Justice". I've listened to a couple of the directors from SCTPBA and have walked away with a sense of it being a very good organization.

Our local burn association has equipment that members can borrow such as drip torches, equipment to lay down wet lines, suppression, etc.
 

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Did you say Golfer or Gopher poison? Where in Texas are those critters! Damn!
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they're gonna lock me up and throw away the key!"

"Gophers! Ya great kit, not 'golfers'-- the little brown furry rodents!"

"Oh, we can do that... we don't even need a reason!"

"Aye, then do it man..."

"Okay... let's do the same thing but with gophers!"

"AAAhhh!!!" (slaps him with hat and storms off).

'Caddyshack'... absolutely freakin' classic...

Later! LOL OL JR :)
 

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Bit of advice... make sure there's no "surprises" out there... walk your fields if you're not sure...

My last experience with a prescribed burn was when the neighbor decided that we could make some good money hauling scrap iron off his place... He's been selling it off one lot at a time and his 'new neighbors' are about to form a homeowner's association and throw him off his own place, given how much they seem to complain to him... His Dad was my Granddad's age, maybe a little older, and they farmed across the road from each other for decades... I don't think he EVER got rid of a single piece of old equipment when he junked it out or retired it, or replaced it with something newer. Everything back there from pieces of F-12's on up...

At the time scrap prices were great, so I jumped at the chance. Only problem was, the center 10-15 acres where all the stuff had been junked over the years were grown up in solid 10 foot tall blood weeds (as we call them, which is really "giant ragweed", or for you northern guys, "horseweeds"). These were dried out (late winter) and standing thick and tall, and basically provided a PERFECT fuel load for a prescribed burn, which was needed to take out the hedges of brambles and berry vines that had overgrown a lot of the machinery scrap...

SO, I go over with the neighbor and we'd disked some firebreaks around the place... He had grabbed an old pair of blue jeans and tied them to a 5-6 foot piece of baling wire, and then dunked them into a five gallon bucket with some diesel in it... Instead of using a drip torch to ignite the fire lines, he was going to use the "operation Mongoose" method and simply light off the jeans sopping wet with diesel and drag them across the field at 100 foot or so intervals...

I was sitting in the truck to provide firewatch... He lights up the old jeans, and takes off through this mess for the far side, getting the first fire line started in the undergrowth of the north side of the field-- conditions were about perfect, with a very slight north breeze of about 2-4 mph...

Next thing I know, he comes high-stepping it out of there, jumps in the truck, and yells, "throw it in reverse, let's get outta here!" I start backing down the field road like a madman, and I asked him "what is it?"

"I looped around the other side and started back across, starting the next fire line, and I walked up on some welding gas cylinders laying out there that someone must've thrown off the truck years ago... If those things go... "

The first fire line had caught and as the fire moved up into the tall, bone dry giant ragweeds, fed by the gentle breeze and starting to draft because of the tall weeds, it started to burn like gasoline... the fire started racing across the field... We'd backed up to his old shop and I shut the truck off and we got out, and about this time "KA- BOOM!!!!!!"

This huge fireball goes up like a mushroom cloud... flames were already shooting 20 feet high out of the thicket of dry ragweed, so this huge fireball over that was really impressive...

The fire burned across the field and in 20 minutes it was all over; the fire stopped at the firebreaks and didn't spread anywhere it wasn't wanted, and it had been REALLY impressive to see... All that was left was a charred black ash of burned grass in the understory and white ash from the ragweeds and vines and crap... looked like a moonscape... Where you could barely push through an hour earlier, and couldn't see more than five feet in any direction, was now totally clear as far as the eye could see...

We went out there amidst the smoldering clumps of vines and stuff an hour or so later... turns out that the cylinders were actually old helium cylinders (welding gas; those cylinders *probably* "followed them home" from some jobsite or other they worked on... they were kinda famous for that sorta thing) and the valves were open, so they simply vented out the open valves when they heated up, and weren't under any pressure...

What had exploded surprised us... We found, laying on the ground, an old car driveshaft that had been tossed out on the ground years before. Evidently, it got SO hot that the air inside expanded SO MUCH that it finally exploded... about 2/3 down the length of the driveshaft, the steel tubing had split open along the weld seam where the tubing had been formed in the factory... the seam had split open as pretty as with a surgeon's scalpel, and the tube just opened up into a perfectly flat sheet of steel at the other end, where the U-joint yoke had been welded onto the end of the tube... The weld had split cleanly...

We never did find the U-joint yoke that had blown off the end of the tube when the weld or the seam failed... It's probably in orbit somewhere, riding alongside Sputnik or something... LOL:)

As for the scrap hauling exercise, over the next week or so I managed to pick up a couple smallish loads... every time I went to cut up an old cotton picker or old farm implement that had been rusting away back there in the weeds for the last 40 years, the neighbor would come say, "No, don't cut that up! If the renter quits farming this place, I'll need that to farm it myself again!" (As if something that old and rusted would ever work right again anyway...)

I finally got disgusted and just quit messing with it, and went back to the house to work on my own stuff...

Later! OL JR :)
 

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The limestone quarry at Georgetown has a fine limestone and an inefficient granular ag limestone. Ask your fertilizer dealer to spread the fine limestone on your field, if needed. This fine limestone is a bit larger in particle size than talcum powder and is spread containing about 7 to 9% moisture to prevent dust. Refer to this fine limestone as ECCE 100%, meaning Effective Calcium Carbonate Equivalent 100 limestone. It is very effective for increasing pH, and much better than the old ag limestone that is only about 64% effective for neutralizing soil acidity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
In regards of prescribed burning, I would recommend joining the local prescribed burn association. In your case, it would be South Central Texas Prescribed Burn Association. The association can provide a wealth of information and resources and can help and guide you in regards to a burn plan, insurance concerns, etc..

One of the directors of that association is Larry Joe Doherty and for those that don't remember, Larry Joe was the judge of the show "Texas Justice". I've listened to a couple of the directors from SCTPBA and have walked away with a sense of it being a very good organization.

Our local burn association has equipment that members can borrow such as drip torches, equipment to lay down wet lines, suppression, etc.
Excellent! Who knew! I didn't and will definitely join it! This board / forum is a wealth of information! I am here to soak it all up! Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The limestone quarry at Georgetown has a fine limestone and an inefficient granular ag limestone. Ask your fertilizer dealer to spread the fine limestone on your field, if needed. This fine limestone is a bit larger in particle size than talcum powder and is spread containing about 7 to 9% moisture to prevent dust. Refer to this fine limestone as ECCE 100%, meaning Effective Calcium Carbonate Equivalent 100 limestone. It is very effective for increasing pH, and much better than the old ag limestone that is only about 64% effective for neutralizing soil acidity.
Good to know! Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Bit of advice... make sure there's no "surprises" out there... walk your fields if you're not sure...

My last experience with a prescribed burn was when the neighbor decided that we could make some good money hauling scrap iron off his place... He's been selling it off one lot at a time and his 'new neighbors' are about to form a homeowner's association and throw him off his own place, given how much they seem to complain to him... His Dad was my Granddad's age, maybe a little older, and they farmed across the road from each other for decades... I don't think he EVER got rid of a single piece of old equipment when he junked it out or retired it, or replaced it with something newer. Everything back there from pieces of F-12's on up...

At the time scrap prices were great, so I jumped at the chance. Only problem was, the center 10-15 acres where all the stuff had been junked over the years were grown up in solid 10 foot tall blood weeds (as we call them, which is really "giant ragweed", or for you northern guys, "horseweeds"). These were dried out (late winter) and standing thick and tall, and basically provided a PERFECT fuel load for a prescribed burn, which was needed to take out the hedges of brambles and berry vines that had overgrown a lot of the machinery scrap...

SO, I go over with the neighbor and we'd disked some firebreaks around the place... He had grabbed an old pair of blue jeans and tied them to a 5-6 foot piece of baling wire, and then dunked them into a five gallon bucket with some diesel in it... Instead of using a drip torch to ignite the fire lines, he was going to use the "operation Mongoose" method and simply light off the jeans sopping wet with diesel and drag them across the field at 100 foot or so intervals...

I was sitting in the truck to provide firewatch... He lights up the old jeans, and takes off through this mess for the far side, getting the first fire line started in the undergrowth of the north side of the field-- conditions were about perfect, with a very slight north breeze of about 2-4 mph...

Next thing I know, he comes high-stepping it out of there, jumps in the truck, and yells, "throw it in reverse, let's get outta here!" I start backing down the field road like a madman, and I asked him "what is it?"

"I looped around the other side and started back across, starting the next fire line, and I walked up on some welding gas cylinders laying out there that someone must've thrown off the truck years ago... If those things go... "

The first fire line had caught and as the fire moved up into the tall, bone dry giant ragweeds, fed by the gentle breeze and starting to draft because of the tall weeds, it started to burn like gasoline... the fire started racing across the field... We'd backed up to his old shop and I shut the truck off and we got out, and about this time "KA- BOOM!!!!!!"

This huge fireball goes up like a mushroom cloud... flames were already shooting 20 feet high out of the thicket of dry ragweed, so this huge fireball over that was really impressive...

The fire burned across the field and in 20 minutes it was all over; the fire stopped at the firebreaks and didn't spread anywhere it wasn't wanted, and it had been REALLY impressive to see... All that was left was a charred black ash of burned grass in the understory and white ash from the ragweeds and vines and crap... looked like a moonscape... Where you could barely push through an hour earlier, and couldn't see more than five feet in any direction, was now totally clear as far as the eye could see...

We went out there amidst the smoldering clumps of vines and stuff an hour or so later... turns out that the cylinders were actually old helium cylinders (welding gas; those cylinders *probably* "followed them home" from some jobsite or other they worked on... they were kinda famous for that sorta thing) and the valves were open, so they simply vented out the open valves when they heated up, and weren't under any pressure...

What had exploded surprised us... We found, laying on the ground, an old car driveshaft that had been tossed out on the ground years before. Evidently, it got SO hot that the air inside expanded SO MUCH that it finally exploded... about 2/3 down the length of the driveshaft, the steel tubing had split open along the weld seam where the tubing had been formed in the factory... the seam had split open as pretty as with a surgeon's scalpel, and the tube just opened up into a perfectly flat sheet of steel at the other end, where the U-joint yoke had been welded onto the end of the tube... The weld had split cleanly...

We never did find the U-joint yoke that had blown off the end of the tube when the weld or the seam failed... It's probably in orbit somewhere, riding alongside Sputnik or something... LOL:)

As for the scrap hauling exercise, over the next week or so I managed to pick up a couple smallish loads... every time I went to cut up an old cotton picker or old farm implement that had been rusting away back there in the weeds for the last 40 years, the neighbor would come say, "No, don't cut that up! If the renter quits farming this place, I'll need that to farm it myself again!" (As if something that old and rusted would ever work right again anyway...)

I finally got disgusted and just quit messing with it, and went back to the house to work on my own stuff...

Later! OL JR :)
Yes, I can easily see how your event happened! Unbelievable how much junk is sitting in fields and I'll bet a lot of it does and would have value if taken cared for.

All the farm and ranch junk are gone off my place... Only took 3, 30 yard roll-off boxes and numerous trips to the East Bernard Dump. Plus, all my equipment is under some kind of cover!

I learned my lesson when my Uncle Frank went out to cut the coastal patch! He came back pissed after hitting the chain harrow I left in the field! Then later hitting the wire I left out there as well! Not a good day! Now, my hay filed is very clean with the exception of fire ant hills! Thanks South America! Although, I do believe the fire ants take care of ticks and fleas... Trade-off!
 

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Yes, I can easily see how your event happened! Unbelievable how much junk is sitting in fields and I'll bet a lot of it does and would have value if taken cared for.

All the farm and ranch junk are gone off my place... Only took 3, 30 yard roll-off boxes and numerous trips to the East Bernard Dump. Plus, all my equipment is under some kind of cover!

I learned my lesson when my Uncle Frank went out to cut the coastal patch! He came back pissed after hitting the chain harrow I left in the field! Then later hitting the wire I left out there as well! Not a good day! Now, my hay filed is very clean with the exception of fire ant hills! Thanks South America! Although, I do believe the fire ants take care of ticks and fleas... Trade-off!
I hear ya... we've hauled a lot of junk off as well... sold for scrap iron... had a BUNCH of old cotton pickers that had accumulated over the years... cut them up and hauled them for scrap-- had we but known what scrap prices would do a couple years later, we could have made a lot more money, my brother and I... but we weren't unhappy with the price we got... nor with having things cleaned up. We've been taking out old fences on the Shiner place and where it was overgrown with brush and briers and trees, we just hit it all with Remedy and diesel to kill everything, give it a year or so to dry down, and then push it all up into a burn pile and burn it... then we drag out the barbwire and roll it up with the loader into big "turds" of rolled up barb wire by crushing it under the loader bucket and rolling it back and forth.

We hauled 5500 lbs of scrap this spring doing that, with some old junk iron and old barbwire, truck rims, old steel water trough, etc. that we loaded up.

Yep, harrows are hard on tires. Bad things happen with junk laying around in a meadow... no doubt about it. As for the neighbor, well, there was nothing back there of any particular value, as in "restorable" or "usable". Maybe glean some parts off stuff, but this stuff had sat out there SO long it had sunk into the ground... an old disk that he DID let me cut up and haul off, it sat SO long in one wet spot that the blades sank in up to the axles, and when I picked it up, the blades had rotted off at ground level, basically... ie "half moon" blades... LOL:) That stuff looked like the Titanic... nothing but rust and crud...

Most of it's still back there, because of his "sentimental value" or "he might need that" and so forth... plus, they did a LOT of stupid stuff... what really got his attention was that the stoners who were renting his Dad's old farmhouse (before it was torn down) was using an old 53 Chevy car that the old man had half-buried under a pile of dirt back in the "thicket" as a greenhouse to grow pot... the old man had buried the car partially and had stored buckets of parts and junk in it decades ago, and the stoners found it and were growing marijuana plants in it like a greenhouse... the neighbor found the stuff when we waded back through the thicket one day and opened up the car to look for some parts or other... he was worried if the laws found it, he'd end up in the clink, so he destroyed the plants and decided that it was finally time to clean up the junk... til it came time to actually haul something off, then everything had "sentimental value" or "he might need it in the future"...

LOL:) Oh well... live and learn. Bout like my BIL's not-so-bright nephew who decided to "go into the junk business" and pulled a bunch of disintegrating hog wire and old grain dryer fans and burners and other assorted junk out of the wash beside the barn, got this BIG pile of crap RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DOUBLE BARN DOORS, and then quit... never loaded it on the trailer or nothing... SO the BIL and I had to go push it all back down in the wash to get it out from in front of the barn, and spent half a day with magnets sweeping the ground for bits of wire and crap that would flatten combine, truck, and cart tires when it was pulled out of the barn... abject stupidity... Kid pulled it out but left it there ALL YEAR, grown up in grass and clover knee deep... just stupid... No driver's license, but he's gonna load it all on his Dad's old Chevy Brigadier and haul it to the scrap yard in town... yeah right!

Takes all kinds I guess...

Later! OL JR :)
 
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