Cogongrass, new kudzu

first_imgBy Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaMove over, kudzu — there’s a new weed around, and it’s headedour way.The highly invasive cogongrass is being called the new weed toreckon with, according to scientists across the Southeast.A perennial that spreads from wind-blown seeds and scaly, whiterhizomes, cogongrass was introduced into the United States bothaccidentally and intentionally.”It made its way into the country on ships that ported inAlabama,” said Tim Murphy, an Extension weed scientist with theUniversity of Georgia College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences. Came in on ships”It was used as a packing material,” Murphy said. “Then it wasevaluated for soil erosion control and as a forage grass.Unfortunately, cattle won’t eat it.”Now found in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida,South Carolina and Virginia, cogongrass has been added to theFederal Noxious Weeds List. It has also been identified inBainbridge, Ga. and a few other spots in southeast Georgia,Murphy said.”It hasn’t spread across our state yet, but it’s just a matter oftime,” he said. “We’ve just got a small infestation now. But it’sa highly evasive weed that can quickly displace nativevegetation.”Cogongrass produces upright, smooth stems that grow 2 to 4 feethigh and form compacted stands. It normally flowers in March toMay, producing silvery or white, silky hairs that look likeplumes. Fire hazard, hard to manageBesides taking over other plants, cogongrass is a firehazard.”It creates an extremely hot fire which can easily destroy smallpine stands,” Murphy said.Cogongrass isn’t a weed that can be easily managed. Researchersin Florida, Alabama and Mississippi are trying to find ways tocontrol it.”Kudzu can at least be managed, and it has some redeemingqualities,” Murphy said. “Animals graze it, and some people cookwith it.”Cogongrass isn’t a major problem in Georgia yet.”It will eventually move into the southern portion of our state,”he said. “It will take a coordinated effort among privatelandowners and various state and federal agencies to prevent itfrom becoming a major problem.”last_img

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