Information that originated from scientific trials has found its way into the public domain where it contributes to the myth that concoctions and mixtures of sodium bicarbonate, oil, water and soap are a recommended "Cornell Formula" plant fungicide. There is no such formula.

"With the advent of the Internet," says renowned plant pathologist Dr. Ken Horst of Cornell University and President of H & I Agritech, Inc., "the myth of the so-called 'Cornell Formula' continues to spread and I feel that the record needs to be set straight. Many of the formulas that are promoted in articles and forums are simply inferior and may have adverse health and environmental impacts."

Unfortunately, many of these so-called formulas have very limited benefit and some of these recipes can even result in phytotoxicity or burning of the leaves.

In addition, many homemade formulas that are repeated on websites, in articles and various publications call for the use of dishwashing soap or other detergents. Adding in soaps that are comprised of a laundry list of chemical ingredients may not be wise. Many detergents now have anti-bacterial chemicals such as Triclosan that could kill necessary bacteria in the soil and may be detrimental to nutrient absorption. Accumulation of these chemicals in or on treated vegetables may not be healthy. Some detergents have degreasing agents and other chemicals that may not be useful or safe when used as a plant spray.

Stories about the usefulness of baking soda in controlling powdery mildew and garden fungi have circulated for many years. Its use is a welcomed alternative to other fungicides because bicarbonates are recognized as safe food additives and do not have adverse environmental impacts. It's no wonder that baking soda-based formulas have been so eagerly passed along among ornamental and organic gardeners.

In 1985 Dr. Horst began research into the effectiveness of bicarbonates. Years of research resulted in some surprising discoveries. "The research demonstrated the ability of bicarbonates to effectively inhibit and kill mold spores and determined that potassium bicarbonate was 25 to 35 percent more effective than sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)," says Horst. The research further indicated that a spreader-sticker mechanism was required in order to control and maintain the effectiveness of the bicarbonates. "Without a spreader-sticker," adds Horst, "you don't get complete coverage of the leaf which is necessary to prevent or cure fungal diseases."

During the years of research many spreader-sticker systems were tested, including the use of horticultural oil as an additive. This resulted in better control of the solution, unfortunately the test results also showed that horticultural oil as an additive had many negative characteristics.

For these reasons horticultural oil was rejected as a spreader-sticker. In order to find a safer, more efficient additive, more than 350 spreader- sticker systems were evaluated. Ultimately, a combination of spreader-sticker additives in very specific quantities was found to be significantly more effective than all other alternatives.

The patented formula, which is distributed by H & I Agritech, Inc., has been successfully used in commercial and large-scale agricultural settings for eight years, and is also available for use on indoor plants, in home gardens, and small organic farms under the name GreenCure(R).

GreenCure(R) cures and prevents powdery mildew, blackspot, blights, molds and other plant diseases on garden crops and ornamentals.

Source: H & I Agritech, Inc.