Cogongrass is one of the top ten worst weeds in the world. It is highly invasive and can take over a property extremely fast. Additionally, it is extremely hard to kill.Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester
Each cogongrass plant can produce up to 3,000 seeds per season. Cross-pollination is necessary for seed production. Seedlings are frequently found in open sites that have been disturbed by clear-cutting, burning, tillage, excavation, grading, fire ant mounds, or other disturbances.
Imperata cylindrica, cogongrass, has a cylindrical-shaped silvery white flower/seed head that is 2-8 inches long. Cogongrass blooms from late March to mid-June. Its leaves can be up to six feet long, and have a whitish prominent midrib that is often off-center. The plant base shows no apparent stem: leaves appear to rise directly from the ground. Overlapping sheaths give the plant base a rounded appearance.
“Cogongrass was introduced to Mississippi as a new forage crop, however, it is not palatable for livestock, not even goats will eat it,” Bozeman said. “It also failed as an erosion control plant because it was too weedy. With no native competition or consumers, cogongrass spread rapidly throughout the Gulf South.”
There is widespread cogongrass infestation in south Mississippi, but the MFC is starting to see and get reports of the weed moving into the northern part of the state. If left unchecked, cogongrass could become a statewide problem.
Bozeman wants landowners in north Mississippi to be on the lookout for cogongrass on their property and the notify the MFC if they suspect the invasive weed has taken root.
“The Mississippi Forestry Commission can offer assistance to landowners in north Mississippi who have cogongrass on their property,” said Bozeman. “We can also come out and help landowners determine if what they are seeing is cogongrass or not.”
The Cogongrass Control Program has typically been reserved for landowners in south Mississippi; however, with the threat of an outbreak in north Mississippi, the MFC will begin assisting landowners who have cogongrass on their property. Landowners living in the MFC’s Region 1, the northernmost 22 counties in the state, can apply for assistance now.
For more information about the Cogongrass Control Program and to fill out the program application, click here.
If you suspect you have cogongrass on your property, call your local MFC forester to come do a site visit. Click here to find your MFC forester.