Some time ago I either wrote an article or responded to something on social media about a certain cereal company that was giving away free seed packets in their boxes. The gesture by the company was great in theory but the issue is that one person’s (or state’s for that matter) wildflower can potentially be another’s invasive or noxious weed.

So, when that promotion started the recommendation was to not plant these wildflower seeds because there was no indication on the packets as to what types of seeds were contained in them.

In case you have not seen the numerous press releases and social media posts it seems as though someone (or some country) has taken the idea from the cereal company and is using the same approach.

I recently received a press release from the Montana Department of Agriculture about the possibility of invasive seeds being distributed through the U.S. mail. Here is the gist of it.

Apparently, residents all over the country are receiving unsolicited packages of seeds that appear as though they have been shipped from China. At this time, no one is sure what these seeds are or why particular people were selected to receive them.

In the press release the MDA states; “If you receive a package of this type, please DO NOT open the seed package, or plant the seeds. It is also important that individuals also do not throw the seeds away. The types of seeds sent in these packages have not been identified yet. Other states have also reported having received similar unsolicited packages through the mail. These unsolicited seeds could be invasive, meaning they may have the potential to introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock. Instead, please hold onto the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label.”

Thankfully, our Federal Government does have steps in place to deal with this issue whether it really is something to be concerned about or not. The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is currently devising a plan to deal with the seeds and as soon as there are recommendations, they will be shared at agr.mt.gov/news.

In the meantime I guess the best advice I can give you is to be aware of what you are getting in your mail. If you do get one of these packets you are welcome to contact me but your best bet would be to get in touch with the MDA either by phone at 406-444-3950, on their website at https://agr.mt.gov/Topics/Seed or you can email Bob Ballensky at bballensky@mt.gov.

In closing, I feel it is imperative to reiterate that if you get one of these packets do not plant the seeds and do not simply throw them away. Either of these actions could end up spreading plants we do not want in Montana.

As always you are welcome to contact me at 433-1026 or send an email to timothy.fine@montana.edu.

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