Kudzu is an aggressive, nonnative vine that currently dominates an estimated 810,000 ha of mesic forest communities in the eastern United States. To test an integrated method of weed control, abundances of kudzu and other plant species were compared during 4 yr after six herbicide treatments (clopyralid, triclopyr, metsulfuron, picloram 2,4-D, tebuthiuron, and a nonsprayed check), in which loblolly pines were planted at three densities (0, 1, and 4 seedlings m−2) to induce competition and potentially delay kudzu recovery. This split-plot design was replicated on each of the four kudzu-dominated sites near Aiken, SC. Relative light intensity (RLI) and soil water content (SWC) were measured periodically to identify mechanisms of interference among plant species. Two years after treatment (1999), crown coverage of kudzu averaged < 2% in herbicide plots compared with 93% in the nonsprayed check, and these differences were maintained through 2001, except in clopyralid plots where kudzu cover increased to 15%. In 2001, pine interference was associated with 33, 56, and 67% reductions in biomass of kudzu, blackberry, and herbaceous vegetation, respectively. RLI in kudzu-dominated plots (4 to 15% of full sun) generally was less than half that of herbicide-treated plots. SWC was greatest in tebuthiuron plots, where total vegetation cover averaged 26% compared with 77 to 111% in other plots. None of the treatments eradicated kudzu, but combinations of herbicides and induced pine competition delayed its recovery.
Nomenclature: Clopyralid; 2,4-D; metsulfuron; picloram; tebuthiuron; triclopyr; highbush blackberry, Rubus argutus Link. RUBAG; kudzu, Pueraria montana (Lour.) Merr. PUEMO; sand blackberry, Rubus cuneifolius Pursh RUBCU; southern dewberry, Rubus trivialis Michx. RUBTR; loblolly pine, Pinus taeda L. PINTA.