Cogongrass has infested much of Mississippi, but it is especially dense in southern and eastern parts of the state. It has been a targeted threat to area land owners for years.
But with a new grant through the federal stimulus program, the Mississippi Forestry Commission is taking no prisoners.
"We are hitting it as hard as we can, as the money and time will allow," said Jim Hancock of the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
And with a team of twenty people, thanks to the grant, the commission is asking area landowners to survey their land to make sure they don't have this enemy weed that promises to take over.
"It just creates a monoculture wherever it goes. Everything else will get pushed back and choked out in front of it, so it's bad," said Hancock. "Notice it's on a power line. It probably came through mechanized operations, like bush hogging, power line maintenance. The parts get on the tractor tires and that's how it gets spread."
And to stop the spread, the commission, working with several other agencies, will send a crew to your property, and with your permission, spray the weed to make sure your other trees and plants aren't threatened.
The service is free. All you have to do is call the commission at 1-877-708-7651, or fill out a request at its website. A link is provided below.
"They don't see an immediate threat until they turn their back on it for one year," said Hancock. "One plant can cover 48 square feet in one year. It has a fibrous root system. They start stealing the nutrients and nothing can penetrate and it chokes everything out. And before you know, it has taken over."
Cogongrass also creates a serious fire hazard for landowners. Hancock says the only way to prevent its negative consequences is to get rid of it.
An informational meeting will be held Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Clarke County Multi-Purpose Building in Quitman.
The forestry commission encourages anyone with questions to attend and get informed.