The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Ag News & Reviews

  • We will soon emerge from one of the driest fall and winter periods in recent history. Whether or not this dry cycle will continue through spring, one can only guess.

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  • We will soon emerge from one of the driest fall and winter periods in recent history. Whether or not this dry cycle will continue through spring, one can only guess. Some long-range weather forecasts are predicting continued drought through this summer and fall and into the winter of 2009-2010. Regardless of the amount and the timing of the anticipated rainfall, as a landowner there are things that you can do to improve the permeability, the percolation and the water holding capacity of the soil and the subsequent water use efficiency of the forage cover. If you want to get more mileage from whatever rainfall you receive, controlling Eastern redcedar infestations is a good way start.
    Eastern redcedar is native to Oklahoma, but historically they were contained and limited to very specific sites by the frequency of periodic fires. Cedar and juniper trees are very intolerant of fire and consequently they were found on steep bluffs on hill sides and along river systems where fire could not reach. Over the last 100 years, after settlement, we have suppressed wild land fires and allowed this insidious and invasive species to spread, virtually uncontrolled, and to dominate native habitats where they do not belong. If uncontrolled and unrestricted, cedars can completely alter and dominate a given site in as little as 10 to 20 years. Because of their insatiable thirst for water and their competitive advantage over grass, forbs, shrub and tree species that are dormant for part of the year, cedars can and will eventually replace those grass and tree species and will devastate the productivity and biodiversity of the land.
    To add insult to injury, cedars around a house, barn or other structures and personal property poses a really unnecessary fire hazard. Because of the volatile oils concentrated within the woody structures of the trees, cedars around personal property is, in effect, like storing diesel tanks where a fire would be most destructive. You would do yourself, your loved ones, and your firefighters a huge favor by eliminating all cedars within 100 feet of the house and other buildings – and allowing cedars to grow around fuel tanks is like filling the sprayer with gasoline to fight a grass fire!
    Winter is a good time to exercise some cedar control measures. Because its evergreen color stands out in the brown winter vegetation, small cedars are easily located. Small trees of less than three feet in height can easily be cut with an axe or with a pair of loppers or pruners. Some producers will make it a point to cut 30 or 40 trees every time they go out to feed the livestock. Over a few months time, this can make a significant difference for only 30 minutes to an hour each day.
    On warmer days, a brush hog behind a tractor can be used to control cedars up to 6 feet in height. One redeeming quality of cedar (it only has two admirable qualities and the other is that it makes good fish habitat when submerged under water) is that it does not re-sprout if you cut it off below the first branch. Smaller trees can even be mulched, if you will, by repeatedly running them through the brush hog. Larger trees may require mechanical cutters, a chain saw, a dozer blade. One of the benefits of winter-time control is that you do not have to worry about snakes and wasps that often shelter in cedars during warmer periods of the year.
    Page 2 of 2 - Once trees are cut, they can be piled and burned (unless a county-wide burn ban is in effect) when light winter rains or snow is falling. Some people find it advantageous to leave them where they fall, to serve as fuel ladders to larger trees when following up with a prescribed burn the ensuing year. Deadfalls make good wildlife habitat as well.
    We cannot make it rain, but we can make the soil store more water and grow more grass by removing invasive cedars. A cedar a day helps keep the drought at bay.
    Food for Thought: Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?
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