We started working to control kudzu at Pine Mountain State Park Nature Preserve in Bell County and Vernon-Douglas State Nature Preserve in Hardin County in 1993. At the time, these were the only two preserves with kudzu.
We started out in 1993 using Roundup. I had a two person crew with backpack sprayers begin working on a kudzu infestation at Vernon-Douglas that consisted of four discrete patches that totaled about 15 acres. They worked the perimeter of the first patch by cutting vines from trees and applying herbicide to the cut surfaces of the vines and then moved in to the body of the patch with a foliar application. They hit this patch for two days in July and again in August. The crew was short term seasonals that year and they had to complete other assignments on the preserve system, so we only treated the first patch. At Pine Mountain, the crew worked with the Park naturalist to spray Roundup from a spray truck the park used on their golf course. There were three discrete roadside patches associated with scenic vistas cut on the mountain side and a communications tower site. The same routine of cutting vines from the perimeter and then hitting the main body with a foliar application was employed. The same efforts were employed at Vernon-Douglas and Pine Mountain in 1994, same months. In a matter of days after each treatment with Roundup, the kudzu would show significant signs of stress, but overall, the density of the patches one year after initial treatment (1994) did not show a marked decline (as we had hoped). The density was somewhat less in 1995, but we didn't feel that we were making substantial gains in controlling the plant. I do not have any sampling data to give you, this was all observational.
In 1995, I started using Transline. At Vernon-Douglas, I was able to arrange a donation of aerial spraying with Transline by one of the electric utilities. They sprayed three of the four patches in May (one is under the canopy and can't be attacked aerially) and we followed up with ground applications that summer. The kudzu did not show the immediate stress following the Transline application, but the drop in density of the patches was clearly evident in 1996. We felt successful at last -- there were no stems to treat in the first patch that we had been struggling with since 1993 and the other patches showed a decline.
In 1996, the aerial spraying did not occur until September, due to scheduling problems with the utility. During the summer of 1996, we used a six wheel all terrain vehicle that we outfitted with a fifty gallon tank and hose with a spray gun. This radically improved our abilities to cover the patches efficiently. We have not had aerial spraying at Vernon-Douglas since 1996, but the effectiveness of Transline and the use of the ATV/sprayer has enabled us to move through the other patches in less than two years. We are now in the fourth (most remote) patch and have eliminated kudzu as the dominant cover in three of the four patches. The kudzu is still present as scattered single vines, so we have to patrol and eliminate it as soon as it is spotted. The response of native vegetation is encouraging. Tulip poplars and other early successional woody species have become established in the previously treated patches.
We've had the same response at Pine Mountain State Park Nature Preserve. When we began using Transline, we used 46 ounces in a two day period in June 1995 and the following year used 4 ounces for the same area. Herbaceous species are re-establishing in the roadside sites. The areas are patrolled each year to eliminate any stray vines that pop up.
Nature Preserves and Natural Areas Branch Manager
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
801 Schenkel Lane
Frankfort, KY 40601
Tel: (502) 573-2886
Fax: (502) 573-2355