Date of this Version
Published at Univ. of Calif., Davis. 2014. Pp. 335-337.
Anthraquinone is an effective chemical seed repellent that protects newly planted crops from depredation by granivorous birds. We are experimenting with foliar applications of 9,10-anthraquinone (AQ) to reduce blackbird (Icteridae) damage to ripening sunflower. Sunflower heads generally turn downward as the achenes mature. With the methods currently available for spraying crops, application of AQ directly onto sunflower achenes is nearly impossible. Blackbirds sometimes remove sunflower bracts prior to eating achenes. Thus, getting AQ droplets directly on the achenes may not be necessary, and spraying the heads should expose blackbirds to AQ as they remove bracts. Studies using caged red-winged blackbirds showed that AQ sprayed onto the backs of sunflower heads reduced damage. However, field trials using fixed-wing aerial sprayers and ground sprayers produced inconclusive results. We are currently experimenting with methods to increase spray coverage of AQ while simultaneously attempting to reduce AQ contamination of achenes, thus reducing the likelihood of having to establish food tolerance limits for this comparatively long-lived compound. In this paper, we summarize results from several AQ studies and speculate on when a repellent might be available for sunflower producers.