April 8, 2011

University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture

Turfgrass Science Program (http://turf.uark.edu) – Turf Tips

Burning Bermudagrass Will Enhance Spring Green-up

Last year, about this time, Dr. Aaron Patton wrote a turf tip on the pros and cons of burning lawns (http://turf.uark.edu/turfhelp/archives/030810%20Burning%20Lawns.html). He made some great points about the potential benefits and also did a good job of pointing out the potential problems that might result. This past winter, we had a grass fire along the road through the experiment station in Fayetteville and it burned a large area of common bermudagrass turf (see photo). I thought I should at least take a picture or two to see if Dr. Patton's comments and recommendations were valid. Now, I admit that I did not check soil temperature or measure thatch or look at the amount of various pests such as weeds, but I did like what I saw in relation to spring green-up (see photo). The removal of dead / dormant leaves and stems did enhance the early green-up of the grass and that area of the lawn is almost 100% green. I also like the "clean" look it has without all the dead leaves present. Now Dr. Patton is no longer here to argue with me about this, but I know he still gets our turf tips and may want to offer a rebuttal. But if I were managing a bermudagrass turf in an area where there were minimal risks from a fire (maybe a golf course rough, an athletic field, or sod farm), I believe the potential benefits from a good, hot fire are clear. Would I recommend burning lawns in town? Probably not, but this old-time practice is still good for grasses.

Now Dr. Patton is no longer here to argue with me about this, but I know he still gets our turf tips and may want to offer a rebuttal. But if I were managing a bermudagrass turf in an area where there were minimal risks from a fire (maybe a golf course rough, an athletic field, or sod farm), I believe the potential benefits from a good, hot fire are clear. Would I recommend burning lawns in town? Probably not, but this old-time practice is still good for grasses.

Mike Richardson

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