Keeping Kudzu Under Control

By Charlie Nardozzi

It's considered the scourge of the South. Kudzu is a perennial, vining weed that has taken over thousands of acres of land in the Southeast. It spreads at a rate of 150,000 acres a year and, with global warming, its range seems to be moving north. This rampant grower engulfs plants as it climbs and spreads and eventually kills them. Continual hand pulling, mowing, herbicides, or letting goats lose in a kudzu patch barely slow down its spread.

However, recent research at the Southern Weed Science Research Unit in Stoneville, Mississippi has found a naturally-occurring fungus that loves to attack kudzu. The fungus, Myrothecium verrucaria, works quickly. Kudzu plants sprayed in the morning with an herbicide based on this fungus showed signs of damage by the afternoon. In outdoor experiments this fungus killed 100 percent of the kudzu seedlings and 90 percent of the adult plants without adversely affecting many native plant species such as oak, cedar, pine, hickory, pecan, sassafras, and blackberry.

For more information on this promising new biological herbicide, go to: USDA Agricultural Research Service

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