Be On The Lookout For Cogongrass!

Landowners are urged to contact the Georgia Forestry Commission if this invasive, non-native grass is found.

Stasia Kelly | April 9, 2024

There were 175 new Georgia cogongrass detections in 2023, bringing the number of known cogongrass spots in the state to 1,951, scattered across 77 counties.

In 2023, cogongrass was detected in Georgia for the first time in Bryan, Cook, Jeff Davis and Quitman counties. There were 175 new detections in 2023, bringing the number of known cogongrass spots in the state to 1,951, scattered across 77 counties.

Overall, these values reflect an approximate 15% increase in new detections in 2023, compared to 152 detections in 2022. Furthermore, 125 sites were eradicated in 2023, compared to 128 sites in 2022. The 1,951 cogongrass spots encompass a total of 492 acres.

The status and treatments for each spot varies. The Georgia Forestry Commission recognizes a spot as eradicated after three consecutive years of finding no cogongrass re-sprouts. Presently, 1,352 spots have been eradicated, 151 spots have been negative for two years, and 208 spots have been negative for one year. The remaining 240 spots were classified as active.

Overall, approximately 88% of all known spots are now negative for cogongrass. Landowners with questions regarding the status of the cogongrass on their property should contact their regional Forest Health specialist (numbers below).   

Known Cogongrass Locations In Georgia

The majority of new cogongrass detections continue to be found in southwest Georgia. However, additional spots are located along the western side of the state bordering Alabama, along with spots in southeast Georgia near the Florida border. The image below displays all counties with known cogongrass.

The top-six reporting counties in 2023 were Decatur, Calhoun, Grady, Early, Seminole and Thomas.


Where Are Cogongrass Sites Being Detected?

The most common cogongrass detections in Georgia are located within thinned pine stands or along road and utility rights-of-way. Approximately 76% of all cogongrass detections have been in woodland areas, primarily thinned pine stands and 17% along rights-of-way. An additional 6% have been unique detections in places such as pastures, pond dams, urban landscapes, flower beds, welcome centers, wildlife food plots and in coastal sand dunes. These sites are of special interest to specialists tracking the movement and spread of this exotic, invasive species.

Overall, What Counties Are Impacted The Most By Cogongrass?

The southwest corner of the state continues to be the cogongrass epicenter in Georgia. Decatur, Early, Seminole, Grady, Thomas, Calhoun, Mitchell, Baker and Worth counties, located in southwest Georgia, and Carroll County, located in west Georgia, complete the top-10 ranking counties by number of detections.

How Many Cogongrass Spots Have Been Detected Annually Since The Georgia Forestry Commission Began Its Lead Role In 2007? Cogongrass detections have ranged from a low of 37 in 2007 to a high of 175 in 2023. Over this time period, there have been an average of 111 cogongrass detections annually.

Georgia Cogongrass Facts as Of 2023:

• This marked the 17th year the Georgia Forestry Commission has held the lead role in the cogongrass detection and eradication program.

• The Georgia Forestry Commission will continue to treat new cogongrass detections for landowners at no cost.

• All cogongrass spots continue to be monitored and treated annually until eradicated.

• Workshops, presentations, field days, etc. continue to be delivered to further educate Georgians about identifying and controlling invasive species. Thirty-one landowner programs, workshops and field days were conducted, delivering the cogongrass message to more than 74,218 landowners and natural resource professionals. Many more programs were delivered by our task force partners.

• 88% of the total number of spots are negative (year 1, year 2, or eradicated).

• 80% of the total cogongrass acreage is negative.

• The average size cogongrass spot is between 0.10 and 0.25 acres. The largest new spot treated in 2023 was 1.5 acres.

• 175 new detections in 2023 was the largest single year total since the program began.

• Seventy-seven counties have had positive cogongrass detections. Thirty-eight of 77 cogongrass counties are now negative.

Doug Reed, Manager Of Notchaway Plantation, Was The Cogongrass Detection Winner For 2023!

The Georgia Forestry Commission Forest Health staff held a contest to recognize the person detecting the greatest number of cogongrass spots. Numerous natural resource professionals and landowners reported new cogongrass findings. However, Doug Reed, manager of Notchaway Plantation in Calhoun County, detected the most spots. Doug was awarded a forester orange vest along with a Forest Health notepad.

The GFC Forest Health Department will once again award a prize to the person who locates the most positive detections in 2024. All landowners and resource professionals are encouraged to search for cogongrass during the 2024 calendar year.

Cogongrass primarily flowers between April and early June. The white, fluffy seed heads are visible from a distance.

How To Identify Cogongrass:

Spring flowering season is the easiest time to detect cogongrass infestations. Cogongrass primarily flowers between April and early June. The white, fluffy seed heads are visible from a distance. However, the distinct golden brown coloration in late fall through winter following frost makes cogongrass visible during the colder months of the year, as well. Cogongrass is most difficult to detect during the growing season. The most distinguishable feature of cogongrass is its dense, sharp, pointed rhizome root system, and it is recommended the rhizomes be dug up to make a positive identification.

How Do I Report A Suspected Cogongrass Spot?

Call your county Georgia Forestry Commission office or contact your regional Forest Health specialist. A resource professional will visit the site to make a positive identification. The Georgia Forestry Commission will continue to spray all cogongrass detections in 2024 at no cost to the landowner. Landowners are required to sign a spray agreement with the Georgia Forestry Commission to legally allow resource professionals to access the property and spray the identified cogongrass. All positive detections are monitored annually until eradicated.

Landowners are encouraged to share information concerning cogongrass with their family, friends, and adjoining landowners. It is important to realize that invasive plants such as cogongrass disrupt natural ecosystems and displace natural plant communities. Therefore, invasive species have a negative impact on our forest resources.

Forest Health Specialists

North Region Southwest Region
Brandon Merz
3005 Atlanta Hwy. 2910 Newton Rd.
Gainesville, GA 30507 Albany, GA 31701
(c) 912-536-7544 (c) 229-869-8592
[email protected] [email protected]

Southwest Region
Mark McClure
2910 Newton Rd.
Albany, GA 31701
(c) 229-869-8592
[email protected]

Southeast Region Program Coordinator
Chris Barnes Michael Torbett
5645 Riggins Mill Rd. 5645 Riggins Mill Rd.
Dry Branch, GA 31020 Dry Branch, GA 31020
(c) 912-601-7093(c) 478-258-9893
[email protected] [email protected]

Program Coordinator

Michael Torbett
5645 Riggins Mill Rd.
Dry Branch, GA 31020
(c) 478-258-9893
[email protected]

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