Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Kicking Privet to the curb and killing kudzu

By Keith Mickler, County Coordinator/agricultural agent

Previously in the past few weeks Lee Walburn, the "Our Town" columnist in the Rome News, penned a wonderful comedic piece on "Privet hedge: friend or foe." He was 100 percent correct; privet will tax your feeble brain and muscles when it comes to kicking this mutant plant to the curb.

However, he failed to mention the other mutant jackass weed, the kudzu. It, too, can overwhelm the medulla oblongata of mere mortals. Humans verses plants, who will win this battle? I am putting $100 on the plants!!!

Both of these dastardly devilish plants are migrants into the U.S. Chinese privet was brought into the U.S. for its ornamental assets such as hedge making. Chinese privet is considered very aggressive in the southern part of our country and is classified as an exotic/noxious invasive plant.

Kudzu was introduced into the U.S. from Japan. It was used for erosion control and forage for animals. Should one stand still long enough you might find yourself covered by this vine. Kudzu is also considered a very invasive plant along with being a noxious pain in the rumpus.

There are several ways we can work over these plants without taxing our feeble brains and muscles, it's called HERBICIDES. I know, Mr. Walburn said, "privet drinks Roundup like lemonade", but if we mix this here lemonade strong enough and you force it down the privets roots repeatedly, you will kick it to the curb. However if you think gingerly putting some weaken concoction you dreamed up on privet or kudzu just once and it taking a long dirt nap, just stay inside and leave it to us guru's.

Here are a few control recommendations from the Guru:

Kicking privet to the curb:
Foliar herbicide treatment: Privet control with herbicides is variable when sprayed on the foliage. For many applications, glyphosate (Roundup) is the most effective treatment. Specific examples: Use a glyphosate product with a minimum of 41% active ingredient. DO NOT use glyphosate products that are "Ready to Use" (RTU) because they do not contain enough glyphosate to be effective. Make sure the glyphosate product you choose has a good surfactant or add a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) at 0.5% by volume. Mix a 3-5 % solution (4-6 fluid ounces per gallon) of the glyphosate product with water and NIS (0.5 fluid ounces per gallon) if needed.
Coverage is critical, spray to wet the foliage but not to runoff. Tall privet sprayed only on the sides will not be killed. If the privet is taller than 6-8 feet, then consider using other methods such as basal bark, or cut stump treatment found below. The optimal timing for application is late fall to early winter when nights are cold but day temperatures rise into the 50s and 60s. Summer treatments are not as effective. Glyphosate may cause injury to other species, but during the late fall and winter when most other vegetation is dormant the risk is greatly reduced.

Cut stump herbicide treatment: Use a 25% by volume glyphosate. DO NOT use glyphosate formulations that are ready to use (RTU) because they do not contain enough glyphosate to be effective. Cut privet stems low to the ground, quickly remove any sawdust accumulation on the stump and IMMEDIATELY (within 30 seconds if possible) spray or paint the entire surface of each stem with the herbicide solution. Spray to wet, but do not puddle the herbicide around the stump.

Should the herbicide treatment be deferred following cutting, a different tactic must be used. Use an oil soluble herbicide triclopyr ester (Remedy) at 20% by volume in an oil carrier or use a triclopyr ester RTU cut stump/basal bark herbicide and spray the entire stump, top and sides. Both water and oil based cut stump treatments work on any size privet but it is critical to treat every cut stem. Untreated cut stems will resprout. Cut stump treatments can be done any time of year but late fall is the easiest from an operational standpoint.

Basal bark herbicide treatment: For basal bark treatment, use the cut stump treatment. Spray the entire circumference of the bottom 12-15 inches of each stem. Spray to wet, but not to the point of runoff. This treatment can take several months to fully work but is extremely effective on privet.

Follow up treatments: In reality, you will need to do aggressive follow up treatments in the year following your first treatment. Follow up is necessary to control new privet seedlings and the resprouts that will occur. Foliar spot herbicide treatment is the easiest follow up approach. It is critical to do follow up. If skipped, privet can rapidly re-infest a spot and the initial treatment was done in vain.

Kudzu Killing: There are several ways in which kudzu can be controlled, but the best approach to take depends on the circumstances: the size of the infested area; proximity of desirable trees, shrubs, accessibility for grazing, cultivation, harvesting; and future plans for the infested area.

One way to eliminate and/or weaken kudzu is consistent defoliation. Grazing or mowing is slow, but can be effective. Grazing requires fencing to surround the infested area. Fencing should contain the entire patch to kill the kudzu crowns. Close grazing of kudzu patches for three to four years can eliminate kudzu as well. It is particularly helpful if kudzu infestations are heavily overgrazed during August and September of each year. Close mowing every one to two months during the growing season or repeated cultivations are also effective.

In a landscape situation, kudzu is usually close to desired vegetation such as shrubs, trees, and ornamental grasses. Unless the entire patch can be treated, complete control is not possible. In such a case herbicides can only be used to keep the booger in check.
Use the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) with a minimum of 41% active ingredient at a 2% solution by volume or triclopyr ester (Remedy) at a 20% solution by volume with a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) at 0.5% by volume. DO NOT use glyphosate products that are "Ready to Use" (RTU) because they do not contain enough glyphosate to be effective. Make application during mid- to late summer

There you have it, 'How to take the Genghis Khan out of the privet and the Mojo from Kudzu."  With all this new found knowledge from the Guru I expect to see privet and kudzu packing their bags very soon in Northwest Georgia. Always remember, a little knowledge can be deadly to innocent plants.  Read and follow the label found on the container

All the products mentioned above can be found at your local farm or garden supply center. Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!!!

Keith Mickler is the County Coordinator and agriculture agent for The University of Georgia/Floyd County
 Cooperative Extension. Located at 12 East 4th Ave, Rome, GA 30161 (706) 295-6210. Office hours are Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension - Learning for Life. Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, 4-H Youth.  An Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution. To obtain extension publications please visit our web site or contact your county Cooperative Extension office.

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