USDA warns of mysterious seed packets showing up in Texas - FOX34 Lubbock

USDA warns of mysterious seed packets showing up in Texas

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Mysterious seed packets, reportedly from China, are showing up in Texas, and the USDA is warning people not to plant them, even inside their homes.

"Now it turns out that some of the seeds are noxious weeds," Kevin Ong, director of the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, said.

Ong warned these seeds could harm more than just crops.

"Those kind of weeds could potentially cause problem for farmers and even cause issues that it might take over an area and take over natural resources," Ong said.

These kinds of seeds are an invasive crop, so once they are planted, they are difficult to get rid of, he said.

"When you have a weed that is not controlled or cannot be controlled in a field, that plant is growing to compete with a cotton plant for nutrients, and so you might get an impact where you have reduced yields," Ong said. "You might have a smaller plant that is not producing well, or worst case scenario, you might have the weed taking over the cotton plant itself, so it has that potential to cause a lot of damage."

While many might think discarding the seeds is enough, Ong said that can do more damage down the line.

"Even putting it in the trash when this is taken to a landfill and all that, there is the chance, small chance, but there is a chance that those seeds could get out and germinate and take whole," he said.

Ong also has some advice for gardeners who may be tempted to plant these seeds.

"If you don't know what the plant is or what the seeds are, don't plant it. Only plant what you know and what you want to grow," Ong said.

These seeds are often disguised in jewelry packages from overseas, sent directly to your address. If you get one, report it to Carol Motloch, USDA-APHIS' Texas PPQ state operations coordinator, at carol.m.motloch@usda.gov. 

So far, these packs have also cropped up in Washington, Virginia, Utah, Kansas, Louisiana and Arizona.

"You will be helping make Texas agricultural a little bit safer," Ong said. "We just want to do a due diligence to make sure that this is not something that could really be damaging." 

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