Invasive grass threatens cattle ranches and forest areas

From the West Alabama Newsroom –

An invasive grass is spreading across Alabama, threatening two of the state’s greatest agricultural resources.

Cogongrass is an invasive grass species that is spreading throughout Alabama, threatening the welfare of livestock and forest areas.

Whale Invasivegrass Fox Pkg1“One of the top 10 most invasive plant species in the world,” said David Russell of the Alabama Extension Office.

“And I think we have 200,000 acres of land infested with cogongrass throughout the state of Alabama.”

The grass spreads like wildfire. But fire can’t kill it.

“We can’t graze it to control it, we can’t disc it to control it. Mowing has no effect. And in fact, fire actually promotes it. So we can’t burn it out,” Russell said.

Left unchecked, the damage cogongrass could do to state agriculture could be devastating.

“The major sectors of agriculture most impacted by cogongrass are our forage pastures. Our livestock markets and livestock areas. Pine plantations,” Russell said.

Whale Invasivegrass Fox Pkg2“If it grows in a pasture, that limits the number of grazing areas. If it grows there, the cows won’t eat it. It will continue to grow. And at some point it will take over the rangeland,” said Cedric Hudson of the Alabama Forestry Commission.

“When it grows in the forest, it grows and absorbs all the nutrients from the trees, causing tree death and stress. And at some point it will take over the forest. That’s why it’s very important that we get control of it. And do it quickly,” Hudson said.

A cogongrass awareness and dissemination workshop was held at the Black Belt Research and Extension Center on Friday.

Rancher Blake Willis says he has been struggling with weed infestation in his hay field for several years.

“It was a battle and it’s hard to win. I found out today that some of the exercises we were doing weren’t the best. And so I hope I become a better person at it and can control it a little bit better in the future,” Willis said.

If you suspect your property is infested with cogongrass, contact your local Alabama Forestry Commission or Extension Office.

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