Avitec Sandhill crane repellent still available in 2008

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Avitec seed treatment is available through a Section 18 for corn in Michigan (as well as Wisconsin and Minnesota). The Section 18 is specifically to reduce crane damage to newly planted field and sweet corn. Legal protection of cranes has resulted in growing populations, thus crop damage from sandhill cranes has risen over the last several decades. Harassment methods are time consuming and often do not work, simply driving birds to neighboring fields. The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin studied how to prevent damage. Using captive birds, they tested 9,10 anthraquinone-treated seed and found that birds learned to avoid the seed because it apparently tastes bad. Anthraquinone is a natural plant-produced compound with low toxicity. It is currently used as a goose repellent for parks, golf courses, schools and lawns.

For agricultural use, anthraquinone is manufactured and sold by Arkion Life Sciences as “Avitec.” It can be applied as a liquid seed treatment by a commercial seed-treater, or on-farm in the dry form as a planter box treatment. It is not a restricted use pesticide, and you don’t need a DNR permit to apply it. However, you must have a copy of the Section 18 label at the time of application. Avitec repels cranes without harming them. The birds detect the treated seed and avoid feeding on the corn. However, cranes may still be present in treated fields, feeding on other seeds, worms or insects such as grubs.

Important notes on Avitec use and price

 In 2006-07, most of the Avitec used was in the powder form as a planter box treatment. The state with the highest number of acres treated was Wisconsin. Dr. Eileen Cullen, the field crops entomologist at the University of Wisconsin, reported few complaint calls, and generally positive feedback from growers using Avitec. The liquid formulation is generally more effective than the dry formulation because the powder must be mixed thoroughly into the planter box. Also, graphite and talc should not be added when using the dry Avitec formulation. If you have time to get seed-treated with the liquid product, that should solve some of the problems and improve consistency. However, used properly, the dry formulation appears to work well.

Dr. DiFonzo's work is funded in part by MSU's AgBioResearch.

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