The phenomenon of strange, unsolicited seeds showing up in people’s mailboxes has reached Pontotoc County. Experts advise caution when dealing with the seed packets. Above all, experts say, do not plant the seeds.

A local woman who asked not to be identified turned in a packet of seeds she said she received in her mailbox in June.

“They just came in the mail in a small manila envelope,” the woman said Wednesday. “But, I was getting ready to take a trip so I just tossed them on the counter. When I got back I saw them and thought, ‘Hmm, I wonder what I should do with them.’”

The woman called Pontotoc County OSU Extension Director Janna Kelley, who immediately advised her to bring the seeds and the envelope to the extension office and turn them in.

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry officials say the phenomenon is known as “agriculture smuggling” — an act they say contains numerous hidden threats to U.S. agriculture and natural resources. In a prepared statement, ODAFF officials said they have received numerous reports from Oklahoman’s stating they have received unsolicited seeds from foreign countries. These seeds are sent in packages usually stating the contents are jewelry. 

The threat the seeds pose, officials say, runs a gamut — everything from the introduction of invasive plant species to species of plants that could introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock.

ODAFF officials provided the following advice for dealing with the unsolicited seeds should they show up in your mailbox:

A. If the package has been opened...

1. Place all of the contents of the package, including the seeds and the original packaging material in a Ziplock bag. Please write your name and city on the outside of the Ziplock bag. 

2. Send an email to morgan.vance@ag.ok.gov and Kenny.naylor@ag.ok.gov stating your location and that you have received a package.

B. If the seeds have been planted...

1. Dig up the seeds or the sprout, knock off any excess soil, double bag the contents and place in a box or mailer. Please write your name and city on the Ziplock bag. 

C. To dispose of the seeds... 

Choose from one of these three options

1. Please mail the seeds to

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry

C/O Agriculture Smuggling Seeds

2800 N. Lincoln Blvd.

Oklahoma City, OK 73105 

2. Drop off the seeds in person at the front desk of ODAFF:

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry 

2800 N. Lincoln Blvd. 

Oklahoma City, OK 73105

3. Drop off the seeds and the original packaging in the Ziplock bag at your local County Extension Office 

The list of offices, complete with addresses and phone numbers, can be found at https://extension.okstate.edu/county/index.html

Please call your extension office before dropping off to make an appointment.

For additional information, contact ODAFF by calling Kaci Hubbell at 405-522-5971, or Joe Rackley at 405-205-2709.

Contact Carl Lewis at 580-310-7520, or by email at clewis@theadanews.com.

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