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March 25, 2001

Dear Client:

If it seems that this quarterly newsletter is a bit early, that's because it is. It is early for two reasons. One is that the approaching spring seems late in coming, and my business, thanks to you, is expanding, so I'm not sure how free I'm going to be later this spring to write the newsletter. The second reason is that I've just come across some very exciting information that I think everyone who sprays fungicides will be pleased to see.

Tired of putting on the little white suits to spray fungicides?

There is a new fungicide on the market that is not really new. It has been around for a long time, and in fact, I would be willing to bet that your wife actually has a box of it in her kitchen cabinet. This new product is actually baking soda. That's right, baking soda. For years, gardeners have known that baking soda can control the onslaught of fungal attacks for many crops. The bicarbonate ion, when teamed up with either potassium or sodium and combined with the proper surfactant, will control a number of serious fungal diseases.

Dr. Ken Horst, a plant pathologist from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has been working with this for a number of years. Dr. Horst discovered that a basic anionic spreader sticker will work together with the bicarbonate. Applied at a rate of about 2.0 to 5.0 lbs/100 gal of water, the combination gives results that surpassed the effectiveness of most commercial fungicides on the market today. This approach is being used on farms and in the horticultural industry, and I see no reason why it won't have the same effect in the golf industry. These are some of the successful control results that have been seen:

How does it work?

Apparently, what the bicarbonates are doing is developing a buffered high pH environment on the leaf surfaces, which creates an environment unfavorable to fungi and fungal spores. The germ tube development of spores is inhibited, and the elevated pH environment can disrupt the enzymes, which are required to solubilize and expand cell walls including the membranes of fungal spores. Membrane activities and cellular physiology are disrupted. It has been shown that the spores of powdery mildew spores collapse within one minute or less after application. The mycelia simply shrivel and dehydrate.

Non toxic/plants don't develop resistance

What makes this so attractive is that not only can your children spray this, but it appears that repeated applications of bicarbonates do not stimulate resistance by various fungal species. If any of you are interested in this, please let me know. Helena Chemical Company is selling a commercial bicarbonate product under the trade name "Armicarb 100," and Cleary Chemical Company is selling its product under the trade name, " First Step." Helena is targeting agriculture, while Cleary aims at horticulture. We have calls into the companies asking for technical bulletins. When this info is available, I will pass it on to whoever wants it. We are also checking the Internet for additional commercial suppliers If you're not interested in commercial products there are recipes available using baking soda. If you are interested in pursuing sources on the Internet, go to Copernic and type in, "Armicarb 100." You will see a number of articles and recipes on using baking soda as a fungicide. By the way the snow is melting, perhaps the spring won't be as late as it seems, and it won't be long before I'm out doing my rounds. If there is anything that you need, or have a question about, please feel free to get in touch. Until then, take care.


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