Current issue: 55(2)
Prescribed burning is a common silvicultural practice in northern Europe, intended to destroy the slash and ground vegetation and to reduce the thickness of the raw humus layer prior reforestation. The purpose of the experiments was to study whether there are any differences in the commencement and early development of mycorrhizal infection between burned and unburned areas. A clear-cutting area was burned on May 1961. The soil was rocky moraine, the forest type was Vaccinium type. Two weeks after burning Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) was sown in patches.
According to the results, mycorrhizal infection took place on the unburned area earlier than on the burned. The difference was relatively small, perhaps 1–2 weeks. Although burning kills mycorrhizal fungi, it did not cause serious harm to the seedlings, on the contrary, the favourable influence of burning was more distinct. The high temperatures caused by the fire are restricted in the soil in a prescribed burning only a few centimetres deep. Although the mycorrhizal fungi are concentrated in a very thin surface layer of the soil, some mycorrhizae are situated deeper, and from there the fungi are able to infect roots and spread back to the surface layer. The fire also rises the pH of the soil, which can be harmful for mycorrhizal fungi. Even this effect, however, is limited to a thin surface layer.
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