Combating Cogongrass - - Jackson, MS

Combating Cogongrass

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

There is a type of grass the Forestry Commission would like for you to watch for.

It is an innocent looking blade grass with a fuzzy bloom, but it is nothing you want to let take hold in your yard or pasture.

It is called cogongrass.

A patch sparkles in the morning dew in a field in Rankin County,  but it also sparkles with an herbicide application designed to stop it, before it spreads.

It may look harmless, but Jim Hancock with the Mississippi Forestry Commission says this is a selfish little plant.

“Cogongrass is an invasive species that came to the United States in 1911, and it’s basically taking over south Mississippi. Wherever it goes it creates a monoculture unto itself. One cogongrass plant can basically cover about 32 square feet in a year. And it kills everything beneath it," Hancock says. "So, if you allow cogongrass to flourish on your place, eventually that’s all you will have.”

Like kudzu, cogongrass is native to the Orient, and like the fire ant, it entered the country through the Port of Mobile, used as packing material.

When cogongrass was let lose into an environment with no natural enemies, it spread for over a century.

“There is nothing that will eat it. We have no natural herbivores in Mississippi that will eat cogongrass, in the south east United States for that matter," Hancock said. "Even the deer, even goats don’t find it palatable. And it a goat won’t eat something, you know its bad.”

So if nothing eats it and it goes unchecked, it just takes over.

There are places in south Mississippi where it has covered hundreds of acres and some of those acres are in tree farms where cogongrass presents another threat.

“When you have a forest fire or either a prescribed burn in cogongrass, it burns four times hotter than normal fuel, so it will kill trees that it’s under," Hancock says. "So it takes a lot more vigilance when you have a forested stand on top of the cogongrass.”

The Forestry Commission, as well as MDOT, is actively working to eradicate stands of cogongrass.

It will respond to treatment, but it will also spread and take over if left untreated.

You can call 1-844-699-1413, toll-free, and report suspected stands of cogongrass.

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