University of California

Fumigation with calcium cyanide dust


H. J. Quayle

Author Affiliations

H. J. Quayle was Professor of Entomology in the Citrus Experiment Station and Graduate School of Tropical Agriculture and Entomologist in the Experiment Station.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 3(8):207-232. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v03n08p207. April 1928.

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When hydrocyanic acid was first used for the fumigation of citrus trees in California in 1886, (1)(2)(3) potassium cyanide, KCN, was the material used. Potassium cyanide continued to be used until 1909, when it was replaced by sodium cyanide, NaCN. Sodium cyanide had been used for industrial purposes, but probably because of the sodium chloride usually present and the consequent decomposition of hydrocyanic acid gas, it was slow in coming into use for plant fumigation. Sodium cyanide was first suggested by Lounsbury(4) for plant fumigation; the effect of the presence of NaCl on the evolution of the gas was indicated by Newell,(5) and Woglum(6) demonstrated its practical use for citrus fumigation when free from the impurity NaCl. In both of these cyanide salts hydrocyanic acid gas is evolved very slowly by simple contact with the atmosphere, so that it is necessary to add sulfuric acid and water to secure a sufficiently rapid generation.

Methods of Fumigation

The first experiments in hydrocyanic acid fumigation for citrus trees involved the use of a generator outside of the tent. This apparatus soon gave way to earthenware pots which were placed under each tree, and this method of generation was followed without change for twenty-seven years.

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Quayle H. 1928. Fumigation with calcium cyanide dust. Hilgardia 3(8):207-232. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v03n08p207
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