The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Plant Industry Division is prohibiting the propagation, nursery cultivation, sale and distribution of cogongrass, along with all cultivars, including Red Baron or Japanese blood grass.
“The policy change is being made to prevent further introduction and secondary spread of cogongrass in North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Widespread infestations of cogongrass displace native vegetation and frequently serve as a fuel source for fires, creating concerns for safety and property loss.”
Cogongrass, a federally and state-listed noxious weed, has been detected in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, where it is a major concern. Most recently, it was found in Tennessee. The perennial is a tall, narrow grass with a reddish tint.
Prior to this policy change, the propagation, sale and distribution of cultivars had been permitted by NCDA&CS. This change will not directly affect established plantings. However, homeowners and other landowners are encouraged to monitor existing plantings for escaped plants or plants that show signs of invasiveness.
Under the new policy, all permits for the interstate movement of cogongrass will be denied. Nurseries with existing inventories of cogongrass, including Red Baron or Japanese blood grass cultivars, must sell or remove all plants from nurseries or garden centers by Oct. 31.
Any remaining plant material will be subject to a stop-sale order and will be destroyed, or must be shipped to other states in compliance with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulations.
Cogongrass was accidentally introduced into Alabama around 1911 as seed in packing materials from Japan, and purposefully introduced for forage uses.
Anyone with questions can contact Rick Iverson, an NCDA&CS weed specialist, at (919) 733-3931, ext. 246.