Cogon Grass Compared to Kudzu

Help is available in battling a major fire hazard, cogon grass, which is being reported in epidemic levels in parts of Mississippi and Alabama.

It was brought to the U.S. from Asia during the 1920s to help with erosion. However, over the years it has not been beneficial. In fact, it has had an adverse affect and is now often referred to as "the perfect weed" and number one "plant pest" in this area.

Forestry officials say cogon grass can be very dangerous because it acts as fuel for wildfires.

"When the thick mats of grass get into the forest and into the grasslands, if it catches on fire, it burns at extremes," said Ed Brown of the Mississippi Forestry Commission. "They've estimated anywhere between 850 and 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just how hot the grass burns."

Brown says cogon grass is much like kudzu, Wherever it grows, it kills the other vegetation. He says cutting it down does not help. It often takes several treatments with herbicides to kill it. Brown says some funds are available through the Mississippi Forestry Commission to help landowners in this effort.

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