Agricultural News: Don’t Plant the Mystery Seeds!

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   If you’ve paid much attention to the media lately, you may have heard about “seeds from China.”  People across the country have been receiving packages of seeds originating from China that were unsolicited, unidentified, and non-inspected. They are often labeled as “Jewelry.” Reports have come in that some of Wayne County’s residents have received such packages as well.

   As of 7/27/2020, the day this article was written, we are awaiting public announcements and instructions from USDA and/or the Department of Ag.

   In the meantime, UT has recommended to do the following if you receive a package of seeds:

*DO NOT open them. 

*DO NOT plant them. 

*DO NOT throw them in the trash, as they could escape the trash and germinate in the environment. They may also be needed as evidence.

*Double bag the seeds in plastic sandwich bags.

*Contact the Plant Smuggling division of USDA-APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) by phone (800-877-3835) or e-mail (SITC.mail@aphis.usda.gov). Await further instruction from USDA or TDA on how to dispose of the seeds.

   While it may be tempting to plant the seeds to see what they may be, please do not do that. We need to be careful to not introduce potentially invasive species into our environment.   Remember… Kudzu was introduced in the late 1800s for ornamental and erosion control, and Asian Silver/Bigheaded carp were introduced in the 1970s for algae control. Both are problematic invasive species introduced with the best intentions that we are still trying to control today. So please be diligent. Spread the word and don’t plant the seeds!  

   All information is known to be accurate as of 7/27/2020.  This is a developing issue and we are awaiting further instruction from USDA-APHIS and/or TDA. Please call or e-mail me if you have questions. mdharris@utk.edu 931-722-3229