What are the ideal conditions for conducting a prescribed burn for management purposes?
The time of year at which a prescribed burn is carried out can influence the intended outcome. In general, the most ideal time for conducting burns in southwestern Ontario is in the spring, approximately mid-March to late April. This time frame targets the growth of the cool-season grasses, and precedes the beginning of the nesting season for the majority of bird species. However, the effects of prescribed fire have been documented at other times of the year as well. Spring burns tend to burn off less fuel material and are therefore less intense than summer or fall burns. A summer burn will burn more slowly and eliminate more of the vegetative duff layer, and decrease prairie grasses and shrubs while promoting the growth of wildflowers and other forbs. A winter burn, conducted during the dormant season, will retain more roots than a late spring or summer prescribed fire. The incidence of fire increases the productivity and photosynthetic efficiency of fire-tolerant species, and promote