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Suspicious sower sending seeds to Nebraska, other states
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Suspicious sower sending seeds to Nebraska, other states

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Mystery seeds

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture is urging anyone who received unsolicited packages of seeds -- like these received in Washington state -- to contact federal ag officials.

Seven months after the invasion of the mystery drones, suspicious seeds are surfacing in Nebraska.

The state Agriculture Department announced over the weekend — and the Norfolk Police Department reported Wednesday — that Nebraska had joined dozens of other states where residents are opening their mailboxes to unsolicited packages of seeds, apparently sent from China.

First, don't plant them, said state entomologist Julie Van Meter.

“There are concerns that the seeds themselves could be state or federal noxious weeds or could carry plant pathogens, insects or diseases that are not known to occur in Nebraska and the U.S.,” she said in a video statement. “We definitely don’t want those pests getting out.”

Beyond that, details are scarce. The senders’ intent isn’t clear, though state and federal agriculture officials suggest the seeds could be part of a so-called brushing scam —  where sellers send unsolicited items to people and post fake customer reviews to spur sales.

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Until officials know, they’re urging anyone who receives the seeds to keep them sealed, and to save the package, seeds and mailing label; the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is collecting and testing them to see if they pose a threat.

Nebraska Department of Agriculture officials have fielded about 60 reports since Friday, spokeswoman Christin Kamm said. None of them indicated the packages were labeled, unlike in some other states (North Dakotans reported this week getting “banana” seeds).

The Lincoln Police Department hadn’t yet fielded any reports as of Wednesday, though officers in Norfolk said residents there were receiving them.

If you get unsolicited seeds in the mail, the state is asking you to contact the local U.S. Department of Agriculture office at 402-434-2346.

Hmmm: The headache-causing hum that permeated parts of Lincoln
Mystery drone reports pour into state of Nebraska website

Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter

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