Kudzu Economic Impact

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Introduction
When Kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, was first introduced to the United States no one suspected that the semi-woody vine would be capable of enveloping forests across the country. Today, the plant sprawls across an estimated 810,000 hectares of land from Eastern Texas to Florida all the way up to Kentucky. When it was originally planted, Kudzu was seen as a “miracle” plant, able to grow extremely quickly and stop erosion dead in its tracks. Given continuous encouragement by the government through the late 1800s and into the 1900s, Kudzu ran rampant and is now considered a Federal Noxious Weed as of 1997. Due to Kudzu’s exceptionally hardy root systems, which can be 30 cm in diameter and grow almost 4m into the ground (Harrington
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Sikora et.al describe in their paper, Kudzu: Invasive Weed Supports the Soybean Rust Pathogen through Winter Months in Southeastern United States, “The economic impact of kudzu in the U.S. is estimated at $100–500 million lost per year in forest productivity. Costs from power companies to control kudzu have been estimated at $1.5 million a year.” Because Kudzu is so effective at taking over most any landscape, most of the economic cost comes from the vigorous level of management required to keep Kudzu in check, usually without being able to eradicate it. Damages to property include killing off the original vegetation, as well as interfering with telephone poles and lines (Sikora 2014), all of which are compounded by the intense growth of Kudzu in the growing …show more content…
In general, Grazing consists of bringing livestock (usually sheep, goats, or cattle) to infested sites, building a moveable fence and allowing the animals to graze on the Kudzu. Rotating pastures is important for both the animals and efficacy of treatment in order for the animals to have enough forage while also going over every section multiple times. In a single growing season, livestock are capable of eliminating up to 80% of the Kudzu’s biomass while also meeting their own nutritional needs. Like mowing, however, Grazing is only capable of removing the above-ground sections of Kudzu and must be repeatedly applied for several years in order to control the weeds (University of Idaho

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