Invasive, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is defined as “tending to spread especially in a quick or aggressive manner.”
A weed is “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth,” according to Merriam-Webster.
South Mississippi is under attack from one of the top 10 most invasive weeds in the world. It can be spread vegetatively or by the wind. It is not suitable as forage for livestock or for erosion control.
Imperata cylindrica, more commonly known as cogongrass or Japanese blood grass, chokes 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, Mississippi Forestry Commission (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-come, 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.
“Cogongrass is a highly invasive weed that the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is actively working to eradicate,” Bozeman said. “We are constantly working with our landowners to help identify and eliminate this devastating plant.”
Click here for more information or to apply for assistance through the MFC’s Cogongrass Control Program.
For landowners outside of George, Greene, Jackson, Jones, Perry and Wayne counties, assistance in controlling cogongrass is available through the MFC’s Forest Resource Development Program (FRDP). As with the Cogongrass Control Program, there is limited funding available through the FRDP and applications are processed on a first come basis.
Click here for more information about the FRDP.
Jace Ponder, Mississippi Department of Transportation
Mississippi State University Extension Service