Farmers vs. Weeds

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Jackson County faces a potential major problem with tropical soda apple.

The Jackson County Extension Office has been educating farmers about the difference with this weed compared to similar looking ones.

"It tends to grow in a glob. The leaf is indented with a lot of spines on the top and the side of the stems have very thick spines on them."

"It's invasive, steals a lot of crop. It's prickly, so people don't like that, and it produces a lot of seed, and cattle eat them, wildlife eat them, deer spread them, so once you have it if you don't work to control it the problem spreads exponentially."

Tropical soda apple usually grows in warmer climate, and even with occasional frosts in the winter you can still find them popping up.

"Though our winters are so mild there are protected areas around trees, tree lines, fences you got some protection that even after a frost you can still see the tropical soda apple."

"Once they germinate we see them grow through the season and they will stay green long as they can before they frost, so once you get a frost you typically don't see as many of them."

So what can you do to protect your land from being overtaken by a major weed problem?

"Is scout your fields, pastures. A good chance, if it's something you've never seen before, it may become a weed problem and a lot of time we'll see the tropical soda apple start in the field edges or the shady areas where the cattle loff."

Smith says tropical soda apple produces berries that look similar to watermelons, and these berries are what cattle, deer and some wildlife eat, and then spread it.

He says the berry's color is a yellowish green color with green or yellow stripes, and each of those berries has 10,000 seeds in them.