A single fire mimicry treatment is not effective for longterm oak recovery

30 04 2016

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I recently inspected a grove of oaks that I treated with fire mimicry methods four years ago. Two of these oaks have stem canker infections, possibly Sudden Oak Death, that were present before the oaks were treated. As the photo sets show, the oaks responded dramatically after only one year. The property owners, pleased with the results, opted to not continue treatments of their oaks despite my recommendation that the oaks receive at least three annual treatments. While some of the oaks are still showing improvement four years after the 2012 treatment, these photos demonstrate that the oaks have undergone a clear decrease in canopy density after the initial response. I believe this decline is because they did not receive followup treatments.

Consider the huge volume of soil encompassed by the roots of an oak tree. These soils have been undergoing nutrient depletion for however long its been since a fire last burned, decades, perhaps centuries ago. Reconditioning this large volume of soil by replacing lost nutrients, especially alkaline-rich minerals, takes a significant effort that requires fertilization over several years.

These results further demonstrate the efficacy of the fire mimicry approach. Not only is there a positive response when we apply these methods, there is also a negative response when we forgo these methods.

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