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EPA approves MDAC's request for corn treatment

JACKSON — Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith reports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved an emergency exemption that will provide protection to corn producers throughout the state from blackbird predation of newly planted corn.

Mississippi corn growers throughout the state have suffered million dollar losses in recent years due to heavy blackbird predation, Smith says.

The products receiving emergency exemption under Section 18 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are Avipel Liquid Seed Treatment and Avipel Dry Powder Corn Seed Treatment manufactured by Arkion Life Sciences, LLC. Corn producers may treat corn seed with Avipel prior to planting to prevent blackbirds and cowbirds from consuming the seed.

Avipel contains the active ingredient anthraquinone, which occurs naturally in some plants, fungi, and insects. As a bird repellant, anthraquinone works as a taste deterrent.

Corn is commonly subject to bird predation in Mississippi because it is the first crop planted in early spring, when the presence of native and crop seed are very low and high wintering blackbird populations are present. Bird predation during the corn seed germination and plant establishment stages kills seedlings, which reduces plant density, leading to considerable yield reduction.

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