Press Releases

Dispelling the Myth of the “Cornell Formula” Garden Fungicide

Erroneous information has led to the use of ineffective homemade formulas.

Ithaca, NY, February 8, 2006 — Inconclusive information that originated out of isolated results 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” fungicide. There is no such formula.

“With the advent of the Internet,” says Dr. Horst, renowned plant pathologist from 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.”

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. For example, baking soda and water by itself has limited benefit because it does not spread evenly across the surface of the leaf and easily washes away. The use of oils or soaps to spread and stick the bicarbonate can lead to an unwanted build-up of chemicals, alter soil pH levels and increase the potential of phytotoxicity.

For example, many of the 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. Most soaps 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. Many soaps also have degreasing agents and other chemicals that may not be useful or safe when used as a plant spray.

Stories about the efficacy of baking soda in controlling garden fungi have circulated for many years. Its use is a welcomed alternative to other fungicides because bicarbonates, both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate 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. Ken Horst began research into the efficacy potential of bicarbonates. The research was intended to quantify the true efficacy of bicarbonates, identify their mode of action and determine the most effective use of these compounds.

Several years of research resulted in some significant and 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 and proved more effective than water and bicarbonates alone, unfortunately the test results also showed that horticultural oil as an additive had many negative characteristics.

Negative characteristics of horticultural oil as an additive to bicarbonates include:

  • Repeated use for several weeks causes phytotoxicity

  • It results in an oily residue building up on the leaves, fruits and vegetables

  • There is an occasional visible crinkling of the leaves

  • The oil separates rapidly from the water making application difficult

  • The use of such an oil may not be ideal from an environmental standpoint; it could increase the hydrocarbon loading of the air and in ground water

For these reasons and others, 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. Highly effective spreader-sticker additives were discovered which increased the efficacy and reliability of bicarbonates for use on ornamentals, vegetables and fruits. Additional research was done on a wide variety of plants and quantitative results were determined for a broad spectrum of fungal diseases. 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 nearly 10 years. The same product is also available for use on indoor plants, in home gardens, small organic farming and greenhouse operations under the name GreenCure®.

GreenCure® cures and prevents powdery mildew, blackspot, blights, molds and other plant diseases on garden crops & ornamentals. It is labeled for use against more than 25 different plant diseases including Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, Alternaria Blight and Blackspot. It is registered for use on over 85 different annual and perennial flowers, woody and ornamental shade trees, woody and herbaceous ornamentals, many herbs and vegetables, and ornamental nut and fruit trees.

Prevention and control of plant mildew and related plant diseases is of great interest to gardeners. Fungal related plant diseases are damaging and unsightly in ornamental plants and can outright destroy garden crops. In addition, plant molds and their airborne spores can cause allergies and adverse health effects in humans and animals, therefore control of mildew is a serious concern, but controlling mildew the right way is very important.

“It’s really amazing how widespread and how often repeated this myth has become.” says Horst. “Considering the amount of research that went into finding the most benign and effective solution to control plant mildew, there really is no reason for gardeners to create homemade solutions that may not be effective and may produce unfavorable results.”

The active ingredient in GreenCure® is potassium bicarbonate, which is listed by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as generally recognized as safe (GRAS). It is commonly used in foods and medicines and does not have any adverse environmental impacts; therefore the appropriate use of this compound, as a fungicide is an important alternative to many of the conventional fungicides that are undergoing toxicological review by the EPA.

Peter W. Yeager
HR Communicator, Inc.
(Representing GreenCure® and H & I Agritech, Inc.)

GreenCure replaces Remedy brand fungicide as the potassium bicarbonate-based mildew solution.

Ithaca, NY, January 30, 2006 – H & I Agritech, Inc., the research and development company whose work perfected the patented formula for an effective, environmentally friendly, potassium bicarbonate-based fungicide, is now marketing their product called GreenCure® direct to retailers and consumers.

H & I Agritech had previously licensed distribution of the formula to the Bonide® Company, which marketed the product under the name Remedy. H & I Agritech has chosen not to renew the contract and as of January 26th, 2006, Bonide® will no longer be distributing Remedy brand fungicide.

This environmentally friendly fungicide, now known as GreenCure®, cures and prevents Powdery Mildew, Black Spot, Downy Mildew, Alternaria Blight, Antracnose, Rust and other mold, mildew and garden fungi related plant diseases. It is EPA registered for use on over 85 different annual and perennial flowers, woody and ornamental shade trees, roses, herbaceous ornamentals, many herbs, vegetables, and fruit and nut trees. 

This same formula has enjoyed significant success in commercial and large-scale agricultural markets for more than eight years. It is used in America’s finest vineyards, orchards, vegetable farms and greenhouses. Now, H & I Agritech is bringing this environmentally sound formula to the home gardener and small organic farm market.

Bicarbonates are seen as a welcomed alternative to other fungicides because both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate are recognized as safe food additives that do not have adverse environmental impacts. Research and extensive use in commercial and agricultural markets has revealed that they are also highly effective as a plant and garden fungicide.

During years of research, renowned plant pathologist, Dr. Ken Horst of Cornell University, made some significant discoveries including the fact that potassium bicarbonate is 25 to 35 percent more effective than sodium bicarbonate. The research further indicated that a “spreader-sticker” additive was required in order to achieve the greatest success with bicarbonates as a fungicide. Horst’s team of researchers evaluated more that 350 different “spreader-sticker” combinations until the GreenCure® formula was identified as the most effective and benign fungicide.

GreenCure® will be distributed through online retailers as well as established home and garden centers. Information about GreenCure® or becoming a retailer for the product can be found at

Peter W. Yeager
HR Communicator, Inc.
(Representing GreenCure® and H & I Agritech, Inc.)