Cane Sugar for Bird Control

Any body tried cane sugar for bird control?

An article in Good Fruit Grower mentioned a number of commercial growers who are using it on Apples, Cherries and Blueberries. Looks like many birds can not digest it so they do not come back to the fruit that has been sprayed with cane sugar

I’m thinking about trying it, but I’m not quite sure how to process the sugar before putting it in the sprayer. I guess hot water would be required to get the sugar into solution so it could be sprayed.


Wouldn’t the cane sugar attract other kinds of insects that might also eat the fruit??


You ask a good question and I don’t know the answer The article did not address that problem. I’m guessing the normal cover spray program takes care of any additional insects drawn to the sugar.

I can’t get the picture of a tractor trailer load of sugar and the grower who bought it to spray his fruit out of my head.

The article did not mention specific rates or methods but did say that sometimes the sugar was added to the normal spray program so it was not necessary to make a special spray just for the sugar.

Have you try flash tape. I have heard it works real well.


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The flash tape helps a lot. I have a bunch of “scare” tape floating from twenty sections of 10 foot vertical PVC pipe spaced through the blueberry field. Its a beautiful site to see them float in the wind. The birds get used to it after a few weeks…

The “dancing man” (Air Crow) helps too, but I can’t use him when its raining. I’m also trying out a siren device that sounds for 15 seconds every half an hour - 130 DB- bet my neighbors really like it! Its battery powered so it will work in the rain.

The birds are terrible this year and I need another layer of protection. I hope sugar might help. I’m going to test it if I get a chance.

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Do you have lots of neighbors with bird feeders in fairly close proximity?

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I read that sugar article as well. IF you contact the magazine or just do a Google search on the article you might find a contact for more info… Sometimes the articles leave you wanting a little bit more research. I have contacted authors or people mentioned in the articles and gotten the info I was looking for before.

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You are exactly right about an increase in Insects after spraying the blueberries with cane sugar! I located a study that confirmed that fact… A Cornell study found that spraying cane sugar reduced bird damage in blueberries by about 50%. It also increased insect counts of JB and YJ:

“In the experiment (done on blueberry plantings), Japanese beetle and yellow jacket numbers rose in
the sucrose-sprayed plots the second year. Rain washes sucrose off the fruit.”

I working to get more info from my extension agent. I need to confirm that I could combine sugar with a SWD spray. I expect the most insecticides used in the SWD spray would also take care of the Yellow Jackets and Japanese Beatles.

My PYO customers could not tolerate an increase in Yellow Jackets for sure.

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Didn’t realize you had a PYO operation. That’s great. Can’t imagine picking blueberries among a swarm of yellow jackets…certainly wouldn’t make for an enjoyable experience…

However a 50% reduction in bird damage is pretty significant…maybe you could try a portion of your crop with the can spray and see what happens.

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NO bird feeders close by. Sparrows are the problem birds on early fruit and Robbins on the late fruit.


I only live about an hour from you, but I haven’t had any noticeable blueberry losses to birds at all. Most (but not all) of my customers that grow blueberries and live in the nearest cities talk about birds being awful on blueberries. It doesn’t seem like there are very many sparrows or robins in my area, though. I can remember mockingbirds eating my figs, but most of the time they don’t seem to bother the figs. I haven’t paid close enough attention to notice what kind of birds eat my sour cherries, but birds definitely take a heavy toll on them. I grew about a tenth of an acre of sunflowers for two or three years in a row, hoping to harvest seed, but birds ate practically the entire crop every time. Yellow finches were most noticeable in the sunflowers. Birds were also quite hard on pearl millet when it tried growing it. Crows are awful on corn sometimes, particularly my field corn, tearing into the tip of the cob while it’s still pretty soft, not necessarily eating that much but opening it up to rain so the rest of the cob molds or sprouts before it’s ready to harvest. I can’t think of any other crops of mine that birds have bothered, and I grow at least a little bit of most of the garden, field, and orchard crops that can be grown in this area. I wonder what the difference is between your location and mine when it comes to birds and blueberries. I’m assuming it’s nothing you or I do but just differences in our local bird populations, but I wonder what makes for those differences.


You are lucky the birds are not pounding your blueberries!

For the first few years we did not have a big bird problem. Once the Robbins found the blueberries the problem got worse every year. We tried a lot of different ways to control the Robbins including shooting them by permit. We never got the problem under control until we netted the entire 2 acre field.

When we planted blueberries again a few years ago we focused on the early RE varieties because they normally get ripe before the Robbins arrive. The birds that attack the new very early SHB are not Robbins but mostly Sparrows. The birds move between the trees along the edge of the field and the blueberries. When the Robbins get bad, its easy to see the constant flow of birds between the big trees and the blueberries.

Both the Robbins and SWD arrive later in the season. The easy solution might be to just add the proper amount of cane sugar to a SWD spray. I’m waiting to hear from my Extension Agent if that would be an approved practice. In the meantime, I added an inexpensive electric siren to my other bird scare stuff. The noise seems to help and I can use it when its raining.


This year I have been to several U-Pick cherry orchards in Brentwood, CA (about 20-30 minutes ride from my place). With acres of trees covered with ripe sweet cherries I didn’t see a single bird or any visible/audible protection devices (Air Scarecrows, reflective bands, sirens, etc.). Finally, I asked one of the owners what they do for bird control. He told me that they spray the trees with a mix of honey and vinegar. I don’t know what proportions are in the mix and whether this is the only method they use. I tried googling this method and only found descriptions of mixes that use hot peppers and vinegar.

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