If you haven’t suffered any veld fires on your smallholding so far this season, don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. There’s a good few weeks ahead when conditions for runaway fires are at their most conducive.

And late-season grass fires are more damaging to pasture than those that occur earlier in the season.

Veld fires in the windy season

As the seasons change the chances of wind – even gale force winds – increase across many parts of the country. And, given that the grass (on the highveld at least) has not enjoyed any rain for a few months, but rather has endured warm, dry daytimes and cold, frosty nights, it is at its driest, right through the plant.

Thus, a fire that starts now, fanned by even a light breeze, will burn easier and quicker than one whose fuel (grass) is moister.

Grass crown

Moreover, early-season fires tend to pass over the crown of the grass plants (the bit at soil-level between the roots and the stems).

Thus, with the advent of a bit of rain, grass plants that burned early have the ability to rebound quickly and begin growing anew.

By contrast, late season fires will burn into the dry crowns, effectively killing the plant and making a quick rebound less likely once the rains start.

To read about veld fire management on your smallholding click here.

Image: Emmanuellives at en.wikipedia.

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