Invasive weed infecting Mississippi, says forestry officials

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Courtesy: Mississippi Forestry Commission

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC), an invasive weed is spreading in South Mississippi. Imperatacylindrica, more commonly known as cogongrass or Japanese blood grass, can be spread vegetatively or by the wind. Officials said it is not suitable as forage for livestock or for erosion control.

The weed hokes out native species for control of soil nutrients. Its roots excrete chemicals that deter growth of competing vegetation.

“Cogongrass negatively affects pine productivity and survival, wildlife habitat, recreation, native plants, fire behavior and site management costs,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester. “Its ability to rapidly spread and displace desirable vegetation makes it particularly dangerous to native ecosystems.”

The MFC uses herbicides, imazapyr and glyphosate, to help control the spread of cogongrass. Herbicide treatment can be costly, but the MFC offers assistance to landowners to help offset some of the application costs.

In Mississippi, cogongrass is most concentrated in the southeastern portion of the state. However, as time passes its range is spreading north and west.

“With the majority of cogongrass hot spots being in south Mississippi, we have designated several counties as top priorities for treatment,” said Bozeman.

The MFC is currently taking applications for the Cogongrass Control Program from landowners in George, Greene, Jackson, Jones, Perry and Wayne counties. The MFC is also taking applications from landowners in other parts of the state who think they have a cogongrass infestation on their property.

Funding for the Cogongrass Control Program is limited. Applications will be processed on a first-som, first-served basis, and preference will be given to landowners in the priority counties.

The deadline for applications for the Cogongrass Control Program is January 31, 2021.

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