Mesquite and fire

by Shane Campbell, Qld Dept Natural Resources and Mines
From Savanna Burning — Understanding and Using Fire in Northern Australia, Tropical Savannas CRC, Darwin 2001

Late dry-season, high-intensity fires can control mesquite

Late dry-season, high-intensity fires are most effective for mesquite control
Photo: Shane Campbell

Fire is a highly effective technique for controlling Prosopis pallida, the most widespread mesquite species in Australia. The best kill comes from burning late in the dry season when the plants are stressed and the fires are intense; mature trees, seedlings and seeds lying on the soil surface are susceptible.

Fire can be effective against scattered mesquite where there is plenty of grass or against dense patches of the shrub where there is no grass but a lot of leaf litter on the ground. For scattered infestations, grazing must be controlled to allow sufficient fuel (at least 2000 kg/ha) to build-up.

Post-fire grazing management is also important as a good grass cover helps to suppress seedling regrowth.

Mesquite after fire: high mortality rates

Mortality rates of mesquite (Prosopis pallida) following burning can be high if conditions are right
Photo: Shane Campbell

In most cases, a single fire will not control an infestation completely and should be followed with either another burn or with chemical or mechanical control.

Burning every three to five years will generally keep mesquite in check. Also see Savanna Links Issue 11, 'Study adds fire to arsenal against mesquite', see link below .


Study adds fire to arsenal against mesquite

A two-year study has found that fire is an effective weapon in the fight against the invasive woody weed Algaroba mesquite. From Savanna Links, Issue 11, Sept - Oct 1999 [read more...]