Citrus County residents have until Thursday, Aug. 30 ,to apply in the Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program, offered to eligible non-industrial private landowners.

The program is offered by the Florida Forest Service (FFS) through temporary grants from the USDA Forest Service. The primary objective is to reduce the spread of Cogongrass to new areas by helping private landowners control or eradicate existing infestations.

The program, available in all counties in Florida, offers reimbursement of 50 percent of the cost to treat Cogongrass infestations with herbicide for two consecutive years, up to a maximum of $100 per year for treatment of up to one acre, and $75/acre per year for any additional area. Qualified applicants may apply to treat up to a maximum of 133 acres of infested area.

Treatments to help get rid of Cogongrass on people’s property will begin in the fall.

Cogongrass is a non-native, invasive grass that is established in Florida and several other southeastern states. In addition to being regulated as a state and federal noxious weed, Cogongrass is a pest plant in 73 countries, and has been recognized as one of the “Top 10 Worst Weeds in the World.”

Cogongrass infestations can affect new tree growth, wildlife habitat, plants and forage quality. The presence of Cogongrass on a homeowner’s property can even decrease property values.

Clay Cooper, agriculture and natural resource agent with the Citrus County UF IFAS Extension Office, said Cogongrass is prevalent in pastures, highway medians and homeowners’ lots that abut wooded areas.

Once it takes root, it’s hard to kill, he said.

“It’s a problem that can definitely be an issues if not managed,” Cooper said. “It is a pain to get rid of.”

Cogongrass spreads through its creeping rhizome system and seed production. The rhizomes can penetrate to a depth of 4 feet, but most of the root system is within the top 6 inches of the soil surface, according to UF IFAS.

Herbicides are still the best way to combat Cogongrass, Cooper said.

For more information about the state’s cost-share program, visit www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest- Service/Our-Forests/Forest-Health/ Invasive-Non-Native-Plants/Cogon-Grass/Cogongrass-Treatment-Cost-Share-Program

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205, mbates@chronicleonline.com.

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