Suspicious seeds showing up at homes in Northeast Ohio, officials say they should not be planted

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REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio (WJW) — Since Monday, hundreds of strange unsolicited packages have been delivered to homes throughout Ohio.

“Kind of a manilla paded envelope and inside there is just kind of a small plastic sealable bag that contains maybe a couple of grams of seed,” said Dan Kenny, the Plant Health Department Chief for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Many of the packages are labeled with what appears to be Chinese lettering and are mislabeled to say they contain jewelry. Agriculture officials say that may be an attempt to avoid customs regulations.

Fox 8 news has confirmed the packages have been delivered to homes in Stark and Tuscarawas county, where one family says they received three such packages, the most recent on Wednesday.

“Monday they really started pouring in, so far as of this morning our count is 400 reports and they continue to stream in,” said Kenny.

Many of the seeds seem to be from familiar home garden flowers like marigolds or sunflowers. Others appear to be those of familiar vegetable plants but agriculture officials in Ohio and other states where they are being shipped warn they should not be planted.

“There may be weed seeds associated with this crop in whatever region it was grown that could easily hitch hike as a contaminate in a lot of seed, theres also concerns about plant diseases and storage pests that maybe arent currently established in the united states that could be associated with these shipments,” said Kenny.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is advising recipients not to open an unsolicited package from overseas.

“I’m sure you have seen reports of china and and then we have seen some other countries associated with the language on the label as well so at this point im not sure anyone knows what the origin of the seed is its still a bit of an odd unknown,” said Kenny.

If they are opened and found to be the unsolicited seeds the department is urging people to keep them in their original packaging and send or deliver them to the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg or drop them off at any location of the Ohio State University Extension Service.

The seeds are being forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for analysis.

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