Hydrogen cyanamide (Hi-Cane®, Dormex®, Breaker® etc)

This information is from literature distributed by Nufarm NZ Limited. Copies may be available at your local FruitFed outlet.
If you live or work near kiwifruit in July-August-September, or you are planning to try this chemical on other crops, then you and neighbours had better be intimate with this information. Do not expect local kiwifruit contractors to make it available to you, even if your local council says they should (in our humble experience).
We are appreciative that Nufarm has made this information available, even if it is not widely publicised – web page Ed.

We highlight this need for care annually.
Newer information is available (2013):

At www.nufarm.com/NZ/ProductInformation
from the Brands panel search for HiCane;
Tick the MSDS Hi-Cane_SDS.pdf (Safety Data Sheet),
and/or the HazNote Hi-Cane_HN.PDF (Hazard Note);
– then click Download, which should yield
Hi-Cane_SDS.pdf (Safety Data Sheet) document,
and/or Hi-Cane_HN.PDF (Hazard Note) document.

Older previously hosted information follows.




The role of chemicals
While chemicals play a valuable role in agriculture, they need to be used carefully and responsibly – for your own sake, your neighbours’ and others who might be affected by spraying.
Protecting yourself is the first step towards protecting others. Knowledge based on accurate information will help you manage any risks.

What is Hi-Cane?
Hi-Cane promotes budbreak in deciduous crops and is effective when applied before budbreak. Just over 50% of the contents of this water-based product is hydrogen cyanamide. This should not be associated with the deadly poison cyanide.
Hi-Cane is classified as a dangerous poison, based on what may occur when someone is exposed to the product. This includes the potential for skin irritations. Some unusual effects may also occur to anyone who drinks alcohol before or for a few days after exposure.
As Hi-Cane is an acidic spray it is corrosive to skin and eyes, and full protective clothing is very important.

Can Hi-Cane be used safely?
Hi-Cane is used safely by large numbers of growers and applicators who follow the correct safety procedures and take the correct precautions.
The LD 50 rating (where the lower the rating, the higher the toxicity) for Hi-Cane is 300 mg/kg body weight compared to 350 mg/kg for aspirin and 150 mg/kg for caffeine.

What are the key precautions for applicators?
Detailed precautions are spelt out clearly in the directions on the label. The key ones are:

  • Read all directions before handling, mixing or applying;
  • When mixing and applying, wear protective clothing such as a PVC spray suit or leggings, elbow length PVC gloves, boots, goggles and a respirator with a filter suitable for aerosol particles.
  • Wear protective trousers over boots and coat sleeves over gloves.
  • A pair of nitrile gloves worn inside heavier protective gloves will stop any exposure to hands and skin. Be careful not to let the inner gloves contaminate the inside of PVC gloves.

What safeguards should others take?
People in the general area but not handling the spray must wear long sleeve shirts, long pants or overalls and chemically resistant boots and gloves, and ensure they protect their eyes.
Be aware of the potential for cross contamination from wearing protective clothing (which may have been exposed to the spray) when getting into a vehicle and then later getting into the same vehicle with normal clothes on.
For at least five days after spraying, it’s essential to:

  • Wear gloves when handling sprayed vines.
  • Keep animals out of the mixing and spraying area. Non grazing animals should not be exposed to any residues on grass for three days and grazing animals for seven days. Dogs are particularly sensitive to Hi-Cane so keep them restrained and well away from spraying.

What if there is an accident?
Swallowing: Give a glass or two of water or milk but DO NOT induce vomiting. Take to hospital without delay.
Splashes & Spills: If Hi-Cane is accidentally splashed in the eyes, rinse thoroughly with clean water for 15 minutes with the eyelids open and seek medical attention immediately. Eye protection will prevent this type of exposure.
If Hi-Cane is accidentally spilled and comes in contact with the skin remove all contaminated clothing immediately. Thoroughly wash with large amounts of soap and water. Seek medical attention if necessary. Put on clean clothing, not the contaminated clothing previously being worn. Wash any contaminated clothes before using again.
In a severe case, it is recommended that doctors use a cortisone ointment containing antibiotics for treatment which will minimise secondary infections.

What about taking a break during spraying?
When work stops for breaks or meals, it is important to wash gloves and rubber boots before taking them off, and then thoroughly wash hands with soap and water. Be aware of the potential for contamination on coveralls/clothing and touching them during a break. Where possible, take off any clothing which may have been exposed to spray. At the end of the day, wash all protective clothing and equipment separately and wash gloves inside and out before storing. Shower and put on clean clothing and do not wear the same clothing the next day unless it has been washed.

What is the concern about alcohol and Hi-Cane?
Alcohol must not be consumed immediately before, during or for a week after working within the vicinity of the sprayer and/or the mixing and loading area. It is your responsibility to issue this warning before any work with Hi-Cane begins on your property.
In some people, the combination of Hi-Cane and alcohol causes what is known as a cyanamide flush, a condition which causes a bright red flush to the skin. Other symptoms are dizziness, headache, shortness of breath and rapid breath, conditions which in most cases are only temporary In exceptional cases, the symptoms last for 24 hours and in extreme cases oxygen respiration may be necessary
People who discover they are allergic to this degree need to avoid further contact.

What about the danger from drift?
The first priority when spraying is to take a responsible attitude, to adopt ‘good agricultural practices’ based on commonsense, country courtesy and due care.
In addition, follow some simple procedures and you can ensure that any spray is confined to the area where you’re applying it.

  • Adjust the speed of the sprayer fan so any spray only travels across the row being treated;
  • Direct spray inwards from your boundaries;
  • Shut off your sprayer at the end of rows;
  • Only spray when the wind speed and direction are suitable.

Do not expose workers or other people directly or via spray drift. Everyone without protection must leave the area. Tell your neighbours about the spraying and ask them to keep children and pets away from your boundaries. We have attached information for you to pass on to your neighbours.

Hi-Cane is toxic to bees so the spray must not contact plants in flower. In addition, the spray must not contact green plants and leaves because Hi-Cane burns vegetation. Casuarinas, gum trees and lemon trees are particularly vulnerable.

Re-entering the orchard
You should allow spray to dry completely before re-entering the orchard. For five days after spraying, gloves must be worn by workers in contact with kiwifruit canes.

Why promote emergency numbers?
On work sites and in the orchard, accidents occur without warning. Being prepared to take the basic steps in an emergency will minimise any injury so post all emergency telephone numbers where they can be seen with a map to the nearest emergency centre. It is your responsibility to ensure that everyone on the job site understands the emergency procedure in case of an accident.

Nufarm emergency phonelink (New Zealand):
O8OO 651 911
toll free 24 hours

National Poisons Centre (New Zealand)

03 474 7000

What about storage and disposal?

  • To minimise corrosion, flush your sprayer with plenty of clean water at the end of every day. Wherever possible do not leave material standing in the spray tank overnight.
  • Hi-Cane must be stored at temperatures below 20°C to avoid a breakdown of the spray To avoid heat build up never store in direct sunlight. If product is kept from one season to the next, store it in a coolstore. Only store in original containers tightly closed away from foodstuffs.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • Triple rinse containers and put rinsate into the spray tank while the tank is filling.

Excess or old product can be disposed of by diluting it and pouring it onto agricultural land. Avoid contamination of any water supply with chemical or empty container. Puncture empty containers and burn if wind direction permits; otherwise bury in landfill.

How quickly does Hi-Cane break down?
Hi-Cane breaks down quickly on plants and in soils. About 90 hours after applying, a kiwifruit plant has completely metabolised Hi-Cane. In the soil, Hi-Cane has a half life of about two days and will have completely broken down in 7 to 10 days in the medium organic soils in which most kiwifruit is grown.

In what other countries is Hi-Cane used?
Hi-Cane is registered for use with many crops in many countries. In Australia and the USA, it is approved for kiwifruit and table and wine grapes. Overall more than 30 countries – including some of our kiwifruit competitors – have approved the use of Hi-Cane on deciduous fruit crops.

Courtesy Card for neighbours


Dear Neighbour,

As part of our farm management we expect to be spraying our orchard in the next few days, as long as the wind and weather conditions are suitable. One of the recommended precautions before spraying is to inform our neighbours, giving you some basic information about the Hi-Cane spray we are using and some of the safeguards we will be taking.

Why are we spraying with Hi-Cane?
Hi-Cane stimulates bud break and flowering in kiwifruit, leading to greater yields of quality fruit.

What is Hi-Cane?
Hi-Cane is a water-based solution of hydrogen cyanamide. This should not be associated with the chemical cyanide, commonly used in New Zealand for opossum poisoning. There are no cyanide molecules in Hi-Cane.

What do I need to know about Hi-Cane?
It is an acidic water-based solution that can severely irritate skin and eyes if they are exposed to the spray For that reason it is classified as a dangerous poison. In line with good management practice we will be following all the recommended precautions with the spray.

What are these precautions?

  • Using a calibrated sprayer and directing spray inwards from our boundaries.
  • Spraying when the wind speed and direction are suitable.

What is the chance of exposure?
This is only likely to happen to people close to the sprayer or where Hi-Cane is mixed and loaded. It is for this reason we use protective clothing when spraying.

What should I do if spray inadvertently drifts my way?
Do not go through a spray cloud. Please keep children and pets away from your boundary when spraying is occurring. It’s also advisable to take in washing.

What about the safety of pets and other animals?
Dogs are particularly sensitive to Hi-Cane and as they can roam they should be kept restrained and well away from the treatment zone during and following spraying. Grazing animals should be kept off grass for seven days after the spray has been deposited.

How quickly does Hi-Cane break down?
Hi-Cane breaks down quickly on plants and in soils. It only takes about 90 hours for a kiwifruit plant to completely metabolise Hi-Cane and in most soils it will have completely broken down in 10 days.

If you would like more information about Hi-Cane, contact Nufarm NZ Ltd 0800 683 276.


Hi-Cane® is a Registered Trademark of Degussa AG

After kiwifruit budbreak – more dubious sprays to beware of include Chlorpyrifos

Created: Wednesday, 4 September 2002 – Updated: 2013-08-06