Sandhill crane repellent available for one more season

Avipel, a non-lethal repellent, will significantly reduce crop damage caused by sandhill cranes.

The Michigan Section 18 exemption for Avipel on field, seed and sweet corn was reissued for the 2011 field season. Avipel is a non-lethal repellent with active ingredient anthraquinone. Sandhill cranes find anthraquinone-treated seed distasteful and learn to avoid it. Avipel liquid is applied as a seed treatment alone or with other pesticides. Avipel dry is a hopper-box treatment, which comes in a new larger canister to treat 10 acres. It is easy to use and can be applied just before planting. However, it must be mixed well with the seed for even coverage.

With conservation efforts, sandhill crane populations increased in the last 50 years, to the point that crop damage is common in some areas of the Midwest. The pictures accompanying this article were taken in southern Michigan. The picture on the left shows patchy corn left after cranes damaged a field edge in northeast Cass County (note the pond in the background, making this good crane habitat). The farmer had to replant a large portion of the field, and you can see the replacement crop emerging. The picture on the right shows a close-up of crane damage in St. Joseph County; plants are typically pulled from the ground and the seeds eaten.

Left, patchy corn left after sandhill cranes damaged a field. Right, a close-up of sandhill crane damage.
Photos 1 and 2. Left, patchy corn left after sandhill cranes damaged a field. Right, a close-up of sandhill crane damage.

Flocks of cranes can quickly destroy acres of corn once they learn to walk down the row and pluck plants as they go. Avipel can significantly reduce this type of stand loss. Although cranes avoid treated corn, they will often remain in field to feed on pest insects such as white grubs and caterpillars – a good thing!

The manufacturer of Avipel, Arkion Life Sciences, submitted a Section 3 package to EPA in fall 2010. By next season, Avipel hopefully with have a full federal label for cranes and Michigan will not have to apply for a Section 18 in the future.

For a bulletin on sandhill cranes in corn, information on Avipel efficacy and Michigan Avipel Section 18 labels – visit the MSU Field Crops Entomology web page.

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