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June 30, 2003   Email to Friend 

Alabama Task Force will try to prevent spread of TSA in the state.
Debra Davis
(334) 613-4686
June 30, 2003

This photo of a Tropical Soda Apple plant was taken in a Florida pasture.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A group of Alabama scientists and livestock specialist will gather July 7 for a meeting of the Alabama Tropical Soda Apple Task Force. Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) is an aggressive perennial plant that is native to Brazil and Argentina in South America. Over the past 10 years, it has infested most of the counties in the state of Florida and has been recently discovered in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Dr. Tomm Johnson with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries leads the Alabama task force.

Representatives of Alabama's cattle industry also serve on the task force, including Perry Mobley, director of the Beef Division, Meat Goats and Sheep Division, and Hay and Forages Division of the Alabama Farmers Federation. Mobley also has been recently assigned to the TSA Regional Task Force, which is a multi-state entity exploring every option possible to stop the spread of this tenacious weed.

Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina have assigned in-state working groups to assess the problem and explore methods of control in those states as well. In 1994, TSA was placed on the Florida Noxious Weed List and in 1995 it was placed on the Federal Noxious Weed List. Therefore, it is a violation of federal law to move this weed. TSA sites can occur along roadsides and ditches and in most agricultural areas, especially pastures.

TSA can produce over 400 seeds per fruit. The fruit is a berry-like object, and a plant can produce up to 125 berries. The fruit has a sweet smell and taste, which makes it very appetizing to wildlife and livestock. Deer, feral hogs, goats and cattle are major species that spread the seed. The seed is not harmed when it is passed through the digestive tracts of animals. TSA thrives in the Southeastern climate and can take over a pasture quickly, Mobley said.

Further information concerning TSA should be available within the next few months as producer education and other recommendations of both the state and regional task force. To read more about TSA, visit the website of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at: http://www.doacs.state.fl.us/~pi/TSA/TSAsite.html.

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