Invasive Watch: Kudzu

Kudzu is a semiwoody vine infamous for its high-climbing and rapid growth capabilities.

What To Look For

Kudzu (Pueraria montana) is a semiwoody, perennial legume vine that spreads by vegetative growth, rhizomes and seeds. Kudzu is extremely hard to control because of its large tuberous root system, which has tremendous resprouting capacity. Its leaves are hairy, alternate, compound and can grow up to 5 inches long. Flowering occurs in midsummer, when deep-purple, pealike flowers appear in clusters at the axils of the leaves. Kudzu fruit are brown, hairy, flat seed pods.

Where It Is Found

It is a high-climbing vine capable of reaching lengths and heights of more than 100 feet. It can grow one foot each day and cover the tops of trees, shrubs, buildings, utility poles and fences. Kudzu often smothers and kills all other vegetation in its path, including trees, and can cause electrical outages.

This highly invasive weed is native to Japan and China and was introduced into the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. It was widely planted throughout the eastern United States in an attempt to reduce erosion. It now occupies roadsides, fields and forests throughout the Southeast, affecting millions of acres.

How To Treat It

There are several ways to control kudzu and all require multiyear commitments to a program approach. There is no current program — herbicide or mechanical — that will control kudzu with a single-year treatment. All methods require multiyear programs to successfully eradicate kudzu. Treated areas should be checked each year, and new sprouts or seedlings must be treated. The establishment of desirable vegetation, such as native trees and/or grasses, will help to discourage new kudzu growth and recovery.

For kudzu control using high-volume handgun applications, mix TerraVue herbicide at a rate of 2.85 ounces plus 0.5% surfactant per 100 gallons of spray solution. For truck-mounted manifold sprayers (usually applied at 50 to 100 gallons per acre), apply TerraVue at 2.85 ounces plus 0.5% surfactant per acre. Do not exceed the maximum labeled use rate of 2.85 ounces per acre.

For spot treatment applications, TerraVue can be used at a rate of up to 5.7 ounces per acre if no more than 50% of the acre is treated. The higher rate in the rate range is better on tough, older kudzu patches.

Transline® herbicide is an excellent option when kudzu control is needed on electric utility poles and other areas where selective kudzu control is desired with little potential for damage to adjacent trees and shrubs. For forest sites, Transline is labeled for use as an over-the-top application for kudzu control in pine plantations (and other conifers) as either a broadcast or spot treatment.

For kudzu control, Transline should be mixed at a rate of 21 fluid ounces plus 0.5% surfactant per 100 gallons of spray solution for high-volume handgun applications or should be applied at 21 fluid ounces plus 0.5% surfactant per acre for truck-mounted manifold sprayers. Do not exceed the maximum labeled use rate of 21 fluid ounces per acre.


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