Eastern red cedar trees are a significant and expanding problem across many pasture and rangeland acres in Nebraska. When fire is planned and controlled properly, it can be a very useful tool to control these unwanted plants.
It is estimated that a single cedar tree with an 8-foot diameter could reduce forage production by 3 pounds. If you had a density of 200 trees per acre, that would translate into nearly a 1/3 loss in forage production because of the effects of area coverage, moisture use, and shading.
In addition to cedar tree impacts on forage production, excessive cedar trees will also dramatically alter habitat for many wildlife species that are adapted to a grassland environment. Also, in the event of a wildfire, uncontrolled cedar tree growth can result in devastating and destructive wildfires.
While mechanical cutting or shredding and herbicides are options to control cedar trees, a prescribed burn is by far the most economical approach.
Safe and controlled prescribed burns don’t just happen. It takes preparation, planning, and an understanding of how fire reacts in certain weather conditions, with particular fuel loads, and on various types of topography.
You can begin to learn how to conduct a safe, legal, and effective prescribed burn by attending the virtual 2020 Nebraska Prescribed Fire Conference. This webinar will be held on the morning of Tuesday, December 8th and speakers include a variety of researchers and land managers.