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Cogongrass Mitigation Program offers support to Alabama landowners fighting invasive grass

Alabama Forestry Commission

The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFA) is offering private landowners relief for cogongrass infestations across the state. According to the commission, cogongrass originated in Asia, Australia and Africa.

It was first introduced to the United States in the 1900s at the port in Mobile. Now, the grass has spread over Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The Yellowhammer State has the largest infestation with cogongrass reports from almost every county, according to the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries.

State forestry experts say this invasive species can degrade the area where it grows. The department says forests and hunting lands are choked out by cogongrass, which threatens ecological habitats. The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries also advises the grass ruins pasturelands because livestock have trouble eating and digesting it. The grass is highly flammable, which increases the risk of wildfires.

Alabama Forestry Commission

Meantime, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System informs that cogongrass is spread by both wind-blown seeds and underground branching rhizomes. A single plant can produce 3,000 seeds while each rhizome, or fragment of rhizome, can start a new plant. The organization offers these suggestions to help landowners avoid spreading cogongrass:

· Do not mow, bushhog, or even go through cogongrass when seed heads are present.
· Do not work in cogongrass infested areas when soil is muddy and rhizomes can easily be broken off and stuck on equipment.
· Do not push roads or fire lines or grade roads through cogongrass. If unavoidable, try to do contaminated sites last.

Alabama Forestry Commission

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s cogongrass field guide can be found here to help identify cogongrass. According to the guide, the grass grows most prominently in dry areas where it can receive full sunlight or even in just partial shade. It can be found in a wide variety of different places including roadsides and pastures. The plants are not usually found in bunches but are also spread over larger areas, meaning cogongrass can easily overtake the land.

Alabama Forestry Commission

“It can be as short as a few inches, to as tall as a foot or so, and usually grows in crop-like circles,” said Owen Andrews, the cogongrass coordinator for the Alabama Forestry Commission. “It can be spread in multiple ways. Through the seeds and winds and birds, stuff like that. A root the size of a dime can create a new congongrass spot.’

Andrews said to stop the spread and growth of the invasive weed, landowners should sanitize any equipment they are using around the grass.

Alabama Forestry Commission

“Wash any equipment you’re using in and around congongrass in that spot, or it will spread,” advised Owens. Try not to be in congongrass when dust seeds are out. It will spread when you go out of that area.”

Andrews said once Alabama landowners have identified cogongrass on their property, they can also apply for the Cogongrass Mitigation Program through the Alabama Forestry Commission to rid the grass from their land. This program is funded through a grant from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine.

The Cogongrass Mitigation Program allows the AFA to spray herbicides over infested areas to rid the grass. The organization says only glyphosate and imazapyr are consistently effective on cogongrass.

“To slow and stop display, you have a couple of options. [At] the forestry commission, we use herbicides. There are two herbicides that we use. One is called glyphosate, and we use that a 4% mister. The other herbicide we use is imazapyr, and we use that a 1% mister.”

Andrews said the Cogongrass Mitigation Program has to be careful about where imazapyr is used. He explained that the herbicide cannot be sprayed near hardwood trees because the chemical could kill them.

The ATA’s website states the goals of the Cogongrass Mitigation Program are to reduce the number of infested acres and eliminate its damaging effects on existing ecosystems. The program also aims to improve the productivity of impacted sites. The website says additional goals are to slow the spread of current establishments and to prevent introductions into new areas of the state.

Andrews said the Cogongrass Mitigation Program offers the AFA’s herbicide services to private landowners to rid the grass at no cost. All they have to do is complete a short online application.

The application asks for the landowner’s name and contact information and the general location of the cogongrass. If the landowner has GPS coordinates to the location, there is a place to upload that. However, if the do not have that information, the AFA can go out and map it for them.

Applications for the program are open now and will close on March 29 at 5 p.m. or when they reach 150 applicants. The program is open to any private landowner in the state of Alabama at no cost.

Alabama landowners can apply for the Cogongrass Mitigation Program or find out more details on the program by clicking here.

For further questions regarding the program, landowners can contact Andrews at

Gracie Powell is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is from the small city of Thomasville, AL, planning to graduate from The University of Alabama in May 2026. She is studying Public Relations with a minor study in General Business. In her free time, Gracie loves to listen to music, watch TV and spend time with friends and family.
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