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Pheasant Damage in Emerging ‘Flowers

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
filed under: Birds

Another wildlife crop conflict that is getting more attention from farmers is pheasant and blackbird damage to newly planted and emerging crops like sunflower, corn, canola, rice and soybean. The problem is quite widespread in South Dakota, where the pheasant population has exploded in recent years. There also are reports of damage in the southern portions of North Dakota.

Pheasants simply dig out and consume the planted seed or the emerging seedling. Damage is usually restricted to field borders, but there are reports of entire fields being severely damaged. Tree rows, ditches and CRP fields provide good cover for pheasants and generally add to the potential for field damage.

The issue for producers is whether to replant those portions of fields that have been damaged. If replanting occurs, it results in two maturities and must be treated as two fields for pest control. It simply is not a good option. Harassing pheasants out of newly planted fields is extremely difficult — especially given the number of acres covered by today’s farmer.

There is an easy potential solution. Avipel® (Anthraquinone) is a well-tested bird repellent that is used as a seed treatment to repel sand hill cranes in Wisconsin and Minnesota. For the past two years, both North and South Dakota were able to get a Section 18 for corn as a drill box seed treatment. Sunflower damage assessments did not meet EPA criteria for a Section 18 in either of the two states. EPA registration of the product is being pursued for a number of crops, including sunflower.

Avipel on the seed, which has been tested in cages and in the field, causes the pheasant mild distress and alters the feeding habit of birds coming into contact with it. The National Sunflower Association fully supports the product’s labeling for sunflower.

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