Many readers have expressed an interest in the use of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as a preventive fungicide. As a result, we have devoted several articles to this topic. (See 1997 issues number 2 and number 3 for further discussion and background.)
For some time now, both sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate have been registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as active ingredients for use as fungicides. The problem is that none of the registrants have taken the next critical steps: label approval, product formulation, and marketing. Just when I thought we may never see an actual product on the shelves, a June 5 Federal Register notice indicated renewed commercial interest. After making a few phone calls, I identified two potassium bicarbonate products of interest.
Within the last few months, Monterey Lawn & Garden Products Inc. began marketing the fungicide Kaligreen, a soluble powder formulation containing 82% potassium bicarbonate. The label and unit size (2-1/2 pounds) indicate that this is not a product for homeowner use. I only mention this product here because it was mentioned in previous articles. Monterey does offer many fungicides for use by homeowners, but the company’s market focus is on the west coast.
In the near future, Bonide will begin marketing a product named Remedy. As I understand it, the registrant (H & I Agritech) is currently formulating the product (82% potassium bicarbonate) and securing state registrations. What does Remedy control and when can you buy it? As of June 19, I have not received the preliminary label, but I have been told it will have a broad homeowner landscape focus for use against a variety of leaf pathogens, particularly powdery mildew. If demand is sufficient, I expect retailers may carry this product next year. I’ve noticed that a few Illinois garden centers and retailers carry other Bonide products.
In the meantime, one strong reminder: Any product we (i.e., Extension employees) recommend to control a pest must be a registered pesticide. In other words, the product must be approved by the EPA and must bear an EPA registration number on the product label. Thus, we cannot recommend a “home remedy” to control a pest. Master Gardener volunteers working for Extension must also follow this guideline on product recommendations.