Two employees of the North Carolina Forest Service were honored at the N.C. Invasive Plant Council’s Annual Meeting with the Excellence in Action Award for their keen eyes and quick reactions to control what many experts consider to be one of the world’s worst weed species.
While assisting a landowner in Stanly County, Forester Tom White and Assistant County Ranger Jeremy Callicut spotted a small patch of the invasive cogongrass. The two saw the small, immature patch and instantly suspected cogongrass even though they had only seen pictures of it in “Pest Alerts” and trainings. They contacted Rick Iverson, a noxious weed specialist in the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division, who confirmed their diagnosis of the weed plant. White and Callicut then assisted Iverson with surveying the area to see if the plant had spread to nearby fields, sprayed the patch with appropriate herbicides, and eventually burned the dead leaves of the plants. While the patch is thought to be under control, the area is still being monitored.
Although nobody knows for certain how this small clump was started, cogongrass can easily establish if seeds or rhizomes are transported as contaminants on equipment or on commodities such as hay, which may have moved from areas in other states where cogongrass is established. This is only the second time this plant has been spotted in the state. The other patch was documented and controlled in May 2012, in Pender County.
The public is encouraged to learn more about cogongrass and how to identify it (www.cogongrass.org) and to report suspected infestations to the NCDA&CS at 1-800-206-WEED or email information to firstname.lastname@example.org.