Kudzu is a fast-growing, climbing, semi-woody perennial vine in the pea family. The leaves are alternate and compound, with three broad, hairy leaflets up to 4 inches across. Leaflets may be entire or deeply lobed. Individual flowers, about ½ inch long, are purple, highly fragrant, and borne in long hanging clusters. Flowering occurs in late summer. Three to 10 hard seeds are produced in flat, hairy, brown seed pods.
Photo. Jean-Marie Luginbuhl, North Carolina State University
Type and Class of Livestock: All classes of sheep, goats, and cattle.
Grazing Objective: Continuous grazing to remove 80% of biomass each season.
Growth Stage for Treatment: Kudzu can be grazed throughout the growing season. Frost will damage the aerial parts without killing the plant. Livestock will readily consume kudzu leaves and terminal stems. Three to four years of continuous or controlled, repeated grazing is necessary to suppress this plant.
Potential Effectiveness: All types of livestock consume kudzu, but cattle have shown the greatest success in eradication. High grazing intensity and repeated defoliation throughout the growing season will deplete starch reserves in tubers and weaken the plant. Grazing intensity should be high from the start of the grazing season to repeatedly defoliate and weaken the kudzu vines. Grazing must be repeated for at least three seasons to suppress kudzu to negligible levels. Spot spraying herbicides after the grazing treatment will kill any residual plants. All information indicates that grazing is the most practical method for controlling kudzu.
Ketchersid, M.L. 2006. Kudzu? In Texas? No way!!! Available at: http://www-aes.tamu.edu/mary/kudzu/kudzu.htm. Accessed 12 July 2006.
Miller, J.H. 2006. Kudzu eradication and management. Available at: http://www.pfmt.org/standman/kudzu.htm. Accessed 12 July 2006.
Tennessee Department of Forestry. 2006 Control of grapevines and kudzu. Available at: http://www.tennessee.gov/agriculture/forestry/health/vines.html Accessed 12 July 2006.
Terrill,T.H., S. Gelaye, S. Mahotiere, E.A. Amoah, S. Miller, and W.R. Windham. 2003. Effect of cutting date and frequency on yield and quality of kudzu in the southern United States. Grass and Forage Science 58:178-183.