It's harvest season for Southern Nevada marijuana farmers, and authorities are warning residents to be on the lookout.
Authorities from multiple agencies said Tuesday that police were on pace to surpass the number of plants seized in Nevada last year and that totals have been increasing each year.
Nevada authorities have seized 44,738 plants this year. Kent Bitsko, director of the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas task force in Nevada, said the harvest season was "early."
Although he did not have specific numbers for the Las Vegas area, Bitsko said he thinks police will find more outdoor marijuana farms in 2012 than in any other year.
"We will be over," he said.
No outdoor marijuana farms were found in Southern Nevada in 2010. But in 2011, police in Southern Nevada identified 60,000 plants .
Before 2010, Bitsko said, police did not think marijuana could grow in the mountains around Las Vegas.
But farmers have used sophisticated irrigation systems to redirect water to the illegal crops, he said.
More than 80,000 plants were seized in Nevada in 2011, which pales in comparison with other Western states.
Police in California alone seized more than 7 million plants in both 2009 and 2010.
Anyone in the Las Vegas area who notices signs of marijuana farms in the mountains is asked to call police at 828-3461.
Signs include trash, makeshift camps and kitchens, rat traps, gardening tools and, of course, marijuana plants.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.