Honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) is an invasive native woody plant in the southern Great Plains, USA. Treatments used to slow the invasion rate have either killed the plant (“root-kill”) or killed above-ground tissue (“top-kill”). Top-killing provides temporary suppression, but stimulates multi-stemmed regrowth. This study from north central Texas quantified soil moisture, grass production and mesquite resprout architecture following a mechanical clearing treatment that top-killed mesquite (cleared) compared to untreated mesquite woodland (woodland) over a 10-year period. During an extreme drought at 5 and 6 years post-clearing, soil moisture at 60-cm depth became lower in cleared than in woodland, suggesting that, as early as 5 years after top-kill, water use by regrowth mesquite could be greater than that by woodland mesquite. Perennial grass production was greater in cleared treatments than in woodland treatments in all years except the extreme drought years. Mesquite regrowth biomass increased numerically each year and was independent of annual precipitation with one exception. During the year 5 and 6 drought, mesquite stopped lateral expansion of larger stems and increased growth of smaller stems and twigs. In summary, top-killing mesquite generated short-term benefits of increased grass production, but regrowth created potentially negative consequences related to soil moisture.
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