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Unsolicited seeds from China appearing in Maine mailboxes

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 6:55 PM EDT
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MAINE (WAGM) -

Citizens across the state and the country have reported receiving unsolicited packages from China containing seeds. Kathy McCarty has more on what you should do, should you find such a package in your mailbox.

Receiving a surprise in the mail usually makes the recipient happy, but when the package is unsolicited and from a foreign country, it’s cause for concern. Such is the case with random seeds arriving in U.S. mailboxes, including some here in Maine. Adam Robertson, Sales Manager for Seedway, says many of the packages are labeled as toys or jewelry, prompting recipients to open them.

“Our concern is that these seeds are unknown and of unknown origin, and they may be invasive species to this country. We’ve already got a - a real problem with invasive species in - in this country, especially the northeast, and we don’t want to make that any worse than it is,” says Adam Robertson.

Sandra Fournier, Town Manager of Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman, received a packaged yesterday, labeled jewelry, but found seeds inside. It was addressed to her physical address, not her post office box. She contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report it.

“They just wanted me to send an email to them, let them know how many packages we had received, what it was that we had received, and where it had come from, and our address and contact information. I sent that out this morning - waiting to still hear back from them on how to dispose. But I do know that they are recommending don’t throw them away,” says Sandra Fournier.

Robertson says invasive species seeds can look similar or identical to native species. He says without having a specialist test them, having as few as one or two end up in the soil poses a potential risk to native vegetation. He says seeds tossed in a landfill could germinate years after they’re discarded, so don’t toss them in the trash.

“Burning them is a good way to get rid of ‘em - high heat is a real good way. So that will compost. Or call your local Cooperative Extension, NRCS, and see if they have a way that they - you could drop them off and they could help you take care of them. A local agency might be your best bet,” says Robertson.

If you get seeds from China, contact the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Division of Animal and Plant Health, at 287-3200, or email horticulture@maine.gov.

For more information, the DACF is instructing seed recipients to visit https://www.Maine.gov/dacf/seeds and follow the instructions outlined on the form.

Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

Copyright 2020 WAGM. All rights reserved.

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