There is increased interest in the use of summer-season fires to limit woody plant encroachment on southern prairie grasslands, but collateral effects of these fires on grasses are poorly understood. We quantified effects of repeated winter fires, repeated summer fires, simulated grazing (clipping), and their interaction on yields of the C4 midgrass, sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) in northern Texas. Monoculture patches of sideoats grama were exposed to 1 of 3 fire treatments: 1) no burn, 2) 2 winter fires in 3 years, or 3) 2 summer fires in 3 years; and to 1 of 2 clip treatments (no clip or clip once each spring). Total yield (live standing dead), live yield, percent live tissue, and foliar cover were measured in spring and late-growing season (late-season) over a 7-year period. In unclipped plots, late-season total yield did not fully recover until 2 growing seasons after winter fires and 3 growing seasons after summer fires. By 5 years postfire, total yield was greater in both fire treatments than in the no burn. Live yields recovered more quickly than total yields following summer fires but never exceeded the no burn. Percent live tissue was greater in both fire treatments than in the no burn for up to 2 years postfire. Clipping reduced total and live yields in the no burn and winter-fire treatments but not in the summer-fire treatment. By 5 years postfire, total and live yields were greater in the summer fire clip than the no burn clip or winter fire clip treatments. Results suggest that 1) sideoats grama is tolerant of summer fires but full recovery may require at least 3 years, and 2) in the long-term, summer fire clipping may stimulate sideoats grama production more than winter fire clipping or clipping alone.
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Vol. 59 • No. 3