Coalition to Control Kudzu Infestations without Chemicals

August 2008 Newsletter

 

Kudzilla on the cover: A picture of Paul David Blakeley and Kudzilla are on the cover of the current edition of “Wildland Weeds”. Kudzilla is Paul David’s skid loader equipped with metal tracks, double prong attachment, 18 foot boom with grapple hook, and reptilian comb. The article that got Paul David to the cover was written by Dr. Dianne Fergusson, member of the Kudzu Coalition board of directors.

 

Kudzu slowing down: Fortunately kudzu’s rate of growth drops off about 40% in August based on a study done more than 50 years ago at North Carolina State.  We managed to make progress despite the peak growth months and it is downhill from here.

 

Two victories: Last week we removed the last visible kudzu from two sites: the Spartanburg High site along the Mary Black Rail Trail, and the Duncan Park site known as Peggy’s Patch # 2 (named for Peggy Romine, the neighborhood leader). Once we clear away each one of the visible kudzu plants as was done in these two sites, eradication takes only a few patrols and mop up work to get to “Kudzu Free Zone”.

 

Kudzu free zones:  15 sites out of our sixty plus total are now Kudzu Free. They are: Beacon St. behind the Beacon, Boiling Springs South of 4th across from disposal site, Brentwood Dr. inside curve, I-26 & Bus I-85, Children’s Advocacy Center, Children’s Shelter, Converse Heights at Otis & Palmetto railroad bank, Drayton Road curve, Duncan Park cove by South Park Drive, Habitat for Humanity at Una, Marion & Alexander corner, Peter’s Creek crossing, Peter’s Creek dam, Oak Creek Plantation dam, and J. B. White Blvd. park at Crescent. Except for the Oak Creek Plantation dam, all sites are pictured on the web site www.kokudzu.com. To look at any of these, we suggest you use the search feature which Lou Adams has built in to every page on our web site.

 

New champion (large) crown: For several years the largest crown we had encountered was the one removed from the I-26 crossing over Business I-85. It measures 20 ½ inches around the base of the crown, is about 50 years old, and is shown on our web site. In July the City of Spartanburg Youth Corps team, working along Barksdale Blvd., removed a crown which measures 25 1/2 inches in circumference. The photo of this new “champion” – maybe “devil” would be a better term – is not yet posted onto the web site.

 

Students initiative: A major priority for the Coalition is to engage young folks in controlling invasive plants under the banner of “No student left indoors”. To that end, we meet with the seven School District Superintendents on September 11. Todd Stephens from the library has provided copies of Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods for distribution to the Superintendents and to each principal of the middle schools and high schools in Spartanburg County. Those books are now tabbed to make it easy for readers and skimmers to go to Celia Cooksey’s key excerpts.

 

# 1 on Google: A friend pointed out that when you Google “kudzu control”, our web site comes up number one after the sponsored links. Yea! We continue to benefit from the nice job that Lou Adams did in setting this up and making it what it is today.

 

Warning -- Yellow jackets: We have seen more and angrier yellow jackets this year than any of the previous seven spent in and around kudzu patches. Please be careful!

 

Another “Joint Project” using herbicides: The “joint study” behind the Beacon Restaurant in Spartanburg with Matt Nespeca’s SC-EPPC “kudzu control with chemicals team” has gone so well that we now have a second “multi-discipline” undertaking. With support by Travis Rogers from Dow AgroSciences, and with donation of time and equipment by certified herbicide applicator Tommy Eubanks of Helena Application Services, Milestone HMV ® was sprayed on four to five acres of kudzu behind the Preservation Trust homes on Carlisle Street in Spartanburg. The marriage of well managed herbicide application and follow up with non-chemical methods appears to work well. See the next item. The first “joint study” is described on http://kokudzu.com/JointStudy.html

 

Mary Morrison’s article about our 23 acre test: The current issue of “Wildland Weeds”, which is just coming off the presses, has an article written by Forester Mary Morrison on the subject of using non-herbicidal methods as a follow up after using herbicides. Her idea was to substitute a non-chemical treatment instead of a fourth-year herbicide application on 23 acres in Sumter National Forest. The concept worked. It did not cost more and it eliminated the additional chemical usage. More details are given on our website at http://kokudzu.com/SNF_SedaliaCamp.html

 

New record for Kudzilla: Paul David skillfully directed Kudzilla at the new Hillcrest/Hillview neighborhood site last Thursday evening. He cleared slightly more than an acre in two hours. Neighborhood leaders Samantha Parks and Connie Melton observed and were delighted. Granted, conditions were optimum, but this sets a new standard for what can be done with this equipment.

 

Sheeting application visible on Pine Street: The late Dr. Larry Nelson had the idea that the heat under polyethylene sheeting might be used to kill kudzu. The Kudzu Coalition tested Larry’s idea and found that it worked – confirming the work by Larry’s graduate student. After experimentation, we began using this sheeting, modified with UV protection, two years ago. In order to give this method visibility, a sizeable, working application is at the rail road overpass on South Pine Street next to Carolina Garden World. If you are in Spartanburg, drive over and see for yourself.

 

Heavy equipment volunteers requested: The skid steer loader (bobcat) and bush hog activities are proving so valuable that we would like to double our capacity. We are looking for one more volunteer with a skid steer loader and two more bush hog owners, each of which might be willing to use their equipment to battle kudzu. Please contact Newt at (864) 497-5387 if you have this type of equipment and are willing to help us.

 

Computer savvy volunteers requested: Needed: Someone to help with the website www.kokudzu.com and someone willing to use the Internet to find and to respond to articles and sites which contain incorrect or misleading information about kudzu control.

 

Thank you for your continuing interest and support for the environment, the community, and the students.     From: The wonderful volunteers making up the Kudzu Coalition