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Prescribed Burn and Fencing

FarmerCharlie

New Member
I have about a 5-acre NWSG field that I planted about 5 years ago. In preparation for burning it the first time, I did some close mowing with my zero turn mower followed by disking to make a fire lane. In some areas, the grass grows right up the fence line of my high tensile fence. One person told me that I could have the fire lane on the other side of the fence, but someone else told me the other day that fire would destroy the coating on the fence. If that is true, then I guess I will have to create the fire lane on the inside of the fence, but that would be a lot of additional work. I would appreciate advice on whether my original plan is OK, or whether I should go to the trouble of creating a new fire lane inside the fence line. I did find some articles that said fire is OK for barbed wire fencing, but I can't find anything about high tensile fencing.

20201226_112833_1000W.jpg


Thanks,
Charlie
 

Oct-Lull

Well-Known Member
I would not burn thru the fence unless you are willing to accept damage to the posts and wire. Grass will burn really hot, especially that tall a variety. Its possible you could start the burn there but it will get hot fast. I would mow the break on the side you plan to burn and if you feel you need to burn under the fence do it after the fact by itself so you can manage it and not let the heat get to crazy. I do several a year for customers and you should always err on the side of more breaks and smaller fires in case it gets away or the wind causes issues
 

Daver

PMA Member
Although I have not worked with high tensile fence, I have done many burns over the years and I wouldn't burn through it if it were me. You could just mow it short right next to the fence and while it probably will burn what remains, it will be far less heat on the fence than if you let it ride the way it is in the pic. That's gonna be a hot one from what I can tell.
 

Central Iowa

Administrator
Can you start your back burn there? If you can it will be fine. Also is there any cedar trees this fire is going through that you want to keep? I have made that mistake by not protecting them well enough and the flames reached them igniting them like a torch.
 

Daver

PMA Member
Can you start your back burn there? If you can it will be fine. Also is there any cedar trees this fire is going through that you want to keep? I have made that mistake by not protecting them well enough and the flames reached them igniting them like a torch.

Been there. ^^ :) Also, as I looked at the picture again I see that it appears that you have some other hardwood trees in the field , surrounded by grass. For shorter grass fires, like brome, I wouldn't be concerned that the fire would damage a mature HW tree that it burns past. However, with much taller grasses like what I see in that pic...I would also recommend, at a minimum, weed whacking, or mowing, a ring of protection around those trees.

While your fire may not catch these trees on fire, it could burn hot enough to effectively girdle the trees and hurt them or even kill them.
 

FarmerCharlie

New Member
Been there. ^^ :) Also, as I looked at the picture again I see that it appears that you have some other hardwood trees in the field , surrounded by grass. For shorter grass fires, like brome, I wouldn't be concerned that the fire would damage a mature HW tree that it burns past. However, with much taller grasses like what I see in that pic...I would also recommend, at a minimum, weed whacking, or mowing, a ring of protection around those trees.

While your fire may not catch these trees on fire, it could burn hot enough to effectively girdle the trees and hurt them or even kill them.
Good points. I'm about to get on my mower and try to cut a path inside the fences. Although the grass is a lot less dense under the hardwoods, I think I'll make passes around them and one of the cedars as well.
BTW. Novices like me are really lucky we can get good advice from experienced people on forums like this one.
 

IowaBowHunter1983

Super Moderator
Staff member
You have a lot of fuel in that picture. That is going to be a hot fire. I agree with others that you will need to mow around any trees you dont want to risk killing.
 

Duckriver

Member
Mowing will help reduce intensity and flame height. You can do a lot of mitigation with firing techniques. Also pay attention to your weather conditions. 60/40 rule keeps things pretty safe. 60 degrees and 40% humidity.
 

FarmerCharlie

New Member
I went back and mowed on the inside of all the fences and around the trees. This is a view of the same area as the first image as it's being inspected by Luke.
20201228_153245_crop_1000W.jpg

And this is the view from across the fence:
20201228_153728_crop_1000W.jpg

Does this look better? I may go ahead and run the disk over it tomorrow.
I used my regular ZTR lawnmower. It's the best mower I have ever seen. With the mulching plate attached, it cuts my yard like a golf green, and with the plate removed it cuts through stuff as heavy as this and throws it several feet. I did the first pass set at 5 inches and then went back over it until the last pass was almost scalping the ground.

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. I feel good enough about it now to go ahead and call the fire department to check it for a permit.
I'll report back when I am done

Charles
 

Duckriver

Member
A good rule of thumb is to expect flame heights 4x the height of your fuel. So 5 ft tall grass expect it to produce 20ft flame heights. So it would not hurt to knock back a few more feet of grass. At least run over it with tractor or mower to reduce the height. Also have someone watching the brush pile you have on other side of breaks. Its a potential issue. Most people want to watch the fire burn....but if your on the line you need to watching for spotfires outside the break.
The weather is your friend....burn before noon when humidity is higher with those fine fuels.
 

FarmerCharlie

New Member
I'm hoping I'm ready for the burn now. Thanks to all the folks on this forum who encouraged me to change my original plans. It sure was fun watching all the bluebirds taking advantage of the fresh mowing. White cattle egrets used to follow my tractor, but I haven't seen them in years.
I'm really looking forward to those 20 foot high flames. This will be my first experience burning anything other than brush piles. The guy who will be managing the burn is a professional; I would never tackle this on my own.
20201229_162141_1000W.jpg
 

FarmerCharlie

New Member
A good rule of thumb is to expect flame heights 4x the height of your fuel. So 5 ft tall grass expect it to produce 20ft flame heights. So it would not hurt to knock back a few more feet of grass. At least run over it with tractor or mower to reduce the height.
WOW! I thought you might be exaggerating, but you were right. We finally had the right North wind today to carry the smoke away from the neighbors.
I had a professional who has a non-profit that does prescribed burns. He brought three helpers, and it went off without a hitch. I didn't even have to turn on the hoses. It was impressive.
All over in about an hour. It was burning along nicely when it reached about the middle of the field. All of a sudden, Woosh!; it was almost like an explosion and was over in a few seconds.
I can't wait until it's time to do it again in a couple of years. And thanks to those who recommended not letting the fire burn to the fence. That caused me to change my original plan, and that's a good thing. Charlie
20210220_122902b.jpg
 
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