MOORE — Cleveland County, situated in the center of the state is fortunate to receive decent amounts of rain almost every year. While we can all agree 2011 was a bust, we are already better off thus far in half of 2012 than we were in all of 2011. Needless to say, rain is a blessing and water is an extremely valuable asset. While water is the backbone for all life, it can also produce a few negatives depending on your objectives.
Rain helps grasses feed livestock, fills lakes, ponds and rivers and recharges ground water. Rain also helps break down organic matter, manure, synthetic fertilizers and other nutrients important for plants and animals. While high annual rainfalls are great for growing grass, they also grow trees and shrubs very well.
Rain and brush go hand in hand. “Brush” is a term used to loosely describe many woody species consisting of shrubs and trees.
Oklahoma has one of the most diverse rainfall maps of any state. From around 18 inches average in Cimarron County to almost 60 in Leflore County, Oklahoma definitely has it all when it comes to rainfall. Areas in southeast Oklahoma have much more potential to grow large trees and thick brush as opposed to the high and dry lands of the panhandle. Naturally, when shrubs and trees are better able to perform due to higher rainfall, their spread is harder to suppress. In fact, it only takes a few years without disturbance (chemical treatment, fire, plowing, grazing etc.) in high rainfall areas for brush to explode and begin encroaching into pasture and rangeland very quickly.
There are many ways to control “brush.” The first way is with controlled burning. Conducting controlled burns on range and pasture can be one of the most cost effective ways to suppress and control brush. Controlled burns also improve grasses, soil, wildlife habitat and grazing potential. A well-designed, professionally implemented and planned prescribed fire can do wonders for the health, value and productivity of pasture or rangeland.