Vines are cut at ground level to kill vines climbing on old billboards behind the famous Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, South Carolina. August 2005.

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Employees of "The Beacon" show their trophies. August 2005.

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The kudzu on the embankment behind Beacon Drive-In is a considerable challenge for nonchemical methods. The embankment is very steep and is a safety hazard to volunteers removing kudzu using hand tools. Likewise for utility vehicles, such as skid loaders. Therefore, it was selected as one of the two sites in the Chemical & Nonchemical Joint Study for Kudzu Control. Some of the treated property is adjacent to the Beacon Drive-In (at the top of the embankment), and is owned by the Spartanburg Housing Authority. Scott Blankenship was present from that agency as an observer for the first herbicide treatment.

Therefore, the partners for the Joint Study at Beacon Drive-In are:

  • SC-EPPC
  • Kudzu Coalition
  • Beacon Drive-In
  • Spartanburg Housing Authority
  • Marshfield Forest Service
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Dow AgroSciences

Beacon Drive-In agrees to keep the site trash-free, repair the kudzu-damaged fence, and otherwise rehabilitate the treated area.

The following photographs were taken during July 2007 as the herbicide was applied to kudzu on the embankment, and adjacent areas. The kudzu leaves began to curl within an hour of treatment. The leaves die in 3 to 4 days, although by the following July kudzu growth shall again be vigorous and appear unaffected. Only after the second treatment in 2008 shall most kudzu die off permanently. A third-year treatment would kill off any survivors, although a fourth treatment is sometimes necessary in the fourth year.

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Whereas the chemical application is a clear liquid in the previous photographs, this photograph shows the same herbicide being applied with a blue fugitive colorant to help Charles apply a uniform treatment without missing any kudzu. Note the operator is wearing gloves to avoid skin contact with the chemicals. Wind direction was also carefully observed to avoid the spray blowing back onto the operator.

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One month after applying herbicide, foliage kill is evident. So is new kudzu growth! August 2007.

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Prior to herbicide application, a vinyl billboard sheet had covered a large patch of kudzu and killed the foliage underneath it. About a 30 foot long section of this ground was uncovered for exposure to herbicide treatment. The photograph shows that one month later, leafy vines are again growing in the herbicide treated area at the center of the image. Click on the image to make it larger. The sheet killed the leaves but not all of the plants (vines, crowns, and roots). However, the herbicide is a "foliar treatment", taken up by leaves. Leaves were absent during herbicide application, so the chemical did not kill any of the remaining live plants. August 2007.

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Volunteers Johnny and Paul Savko posted a prominent sign August 2007 that lists the partners in the Joint Study at Beacon Drive-In. Coalition Board member and volunteer Barbara Daniels shows the sign to John Brubaker, the President of SC-EPPC, one of the participating test organizations. September 2007.

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Volunteers returned in November 2007, which marked the first work at the non-herbicide portion of the Joint Study site since the site was treated with herbicides. The primary objective was to clear kudzu off the fence behind the restaurant along the area that would no longer be treated with herbicides. To get a sense of scale in the photograph, look for a volunteer's face peeking up over the fence, left of center!

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Along with Jim Anderson, Mott Bramblett, and Doug Tinsley in the current Master Gardener class, Paul Savko and seven Broome High School students played a major role in the day’s activities. The Broome volunteers were Alex Barnard, Luke Clark, Kaci Dillinger, Harli Dillinger, Kathrine Mack, Kaitlyn Quinn, and Caroline Ross. Rev. Wilbert McHam also was a volunteer. Some of the volunteers are seen in the first photograph. Jim brought his riding lawn mower to help knock back the kudzu mass.

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These photographs show the partially and fully cleaned fence. As you can see, the weight of kudzu over the years has bent down the fence, but all were pleased by the obvious improvement and the fun we had doing it.

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Beacon owner Kenny Church paid us a visit, and gave every volunteer a gift card entitling them to anything the Beacon Drive-In offers. What an unexpected and delicious surprise!

The plan is for Coalition volunteers to monitor the effects of treatment for 2007, and for subsequent yearly treatments. We will post any future developments here!

Also see nearby work at Beacon St. fence and a noteworthy Beacon St. tree.

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