Actinovate organic fungicide-true or hype?

lynnmac(Mediterranean)December 19, 2009

I have pasted in the description of this organic fungicide below. Does anyone have any experience with this product? Could anything really be this good?

The organic gardener's best friend! Prevents both foliar and root diseases. This highly effective product attacks foliar diseases such as powdery mildew downey mildew, grey mold, fire blight, leaf spots, rusts, black spot and more. It also prevents root diseases such as pythium, verticillium and fusarium. The active ingredient is a patented bacterium that grows around the root system or foliage. It also breaks down minerals and micronutrients making them more readily usable to plants. Approved for use on annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and vegetables. Use as a foliar spray or drench. 2 ounces makes up to 35 gallons.

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This may be a product someone just beginning organic gardening/farming might need until the soil they have is good and healthy and able to to all those things itself. It is not something that would be necessary for an organic gardener/farmer that has built up the soil they have so it is balanced nutritionally and in a good, healthy condition.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 6:54AM
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organicdan(z5b Nova Scotia)

There is an article in the Acres USA magazine (Dec 2009) on Biotic Fertilizers. It has a similar ring to it.

The key still remains to have a balance organic matter input C:N ratio that supports the bacterial and fungal existence. The 'patented bacterium' would make it suspect and definitely needs more research to determine its source, etc. "Actinovate" doe have it OMRI listed. There may be more info at the OMRI site.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 11:40AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Most likely helpful for poor soil. We're talking about new houses where soil is greatly compacted and it may protect plants from disease till soil is improved. That could take quite a long time if Its that bad. Biozome and effective microorganism are two other good ones to use for certain condition. To keep them alive and muiltply, you can feed them with molasses and protein based grains like soybean meal. Compost is a good way to re-introduce microorganisms but quality of compost matters a lot when brewing compost tea.

It just depends on the condition of your soil.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 3:54PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

By the way, I often use a mixture of Actinovate, Plant Success and Biozome when planting trees and shrubs. My house was built in 2005 and my soil is so compacted, it was like trying to dig a hole in concrete street. It did improve a lot since then, having a lot of earthworms but when I get down to 8-12 inches deep, it's still very compacted so it's clear that traditional ways like Kimmsr (I find his advice to be extremely poor in some instances) and it'd time to bring out big guns to fix that now rather than later (in kimmsr's way which never made any sense).

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 1:01AM
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Please explain why adding organic matter to most any soil does not make any sense. This is what Sir Albert Howard wrote about as well as J. I. Rodale, John Seymour, and today you will find people like Lee Reich, Ann Lovejoy, Rebecca Coles, P. Allen Smith, and many others write, and talk, about all the time. Adding organic matter to your soil is what organic gardening and farming is all about, make that soil you have as healthy as possible so the plants growing in that soil are strong and healthy and better able to ward off any problems that might appear.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 6:51AM
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Lou -- you say that your home was built in 2005. If you have been ammending your planting holes with a combination of Actinovate, Plant Success and Biozome ... but that the soil is still compacted at 8-12 inches. I can see using the fast-acting products to begin with, but have you also been using compost and mulch to improve the tilth of your soil in your entire garden? I can't say enough about lasagna layered mulch/compost.

BTW -- when I first started improving my clay soil, the only place I found earthworms was deep in the clay. Never figured that out. Now when I put a shovel in, I get a gazillion worms [proud smile :) ]

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 11:56AM
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"Now when I put a shovel in, I get a gazillion worms."

How do you cook 'em up?


P.S. That's humor folks.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 1:57PM
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Actinovate contains one active ingredient - Streptomyces lydicus WYEC 108, and the product is registered with the epa as a pesticide or fungicide. It is in a solid form, so the bacteria will be in spore form and will need hospitable environment to become live cultures.

I have not used the product and I haven't researched the active ingredient, but I am sure there is a lot of information out there.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 6:41PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I just found out about Biozome a few weeks ago. It's cheap so it can't hurt to try. I mainly am trying it for seed starting project but 2lbs jar is a lot and I have to try it on more things. I planted one tree without Plant Success and it never seemed to thrive at all for a couple years and it's separated from other trees by the driveway that thrived with Plant Success. I just used Biozome and Plant Success on that tree the other day. Have to wait months before I find out to see how it does. I talked to the owner of organic nursery and he seemed to be excited about Biozome and Plant Success. He got excited on how well plants grew from using it and he has his own big compost tea brewer right there. Seems that just using ordinary compost/mulch wasn't doing any much at first. Too slow to improve soil if it's in terrible shape. I noticed that at first during first year. Looked terrible. I started using humic acid, fish hydrolized fertilizer and seaweed liquid solution directly into rootball and the plants seemed to do a lot better than just compost/mulch alone.

I'm trying Biozome out to see if it'd work on compacted soil further down because it can get the job done with very little oxygen. It sounded something like Effective Microorganism (EM) would do. I remember Dr. Elaine Ingham (Soil Food Web) telling me to try that out but that was a couple years ago and EM wasn't available and I had to make them myself. Now that EM is available to be purchased to try out on compacted soil deep down where it's lacking oxygen.

Evergreenagriculture- Plant Success has streptomyces lydicus but it didn't specifiy if it's WYEC 108. Maybe it's super strain version, who knows? Root Shield has really strong strain of trichodermia fungi compared to ordionary ones in the soil (can be maintained by simply feeding them with corn meal once in a while). Plant Success also has trichodermia fungi. Plant Success seems to be best all around value. Biozome is in another class which is entirely different bacteria (archae). That's probably the top 2 choices I'd get. And you don't get them from compost...

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 11:44PM
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Hi Lou-
I don't really know much about streptomyces lydicus - I just googled the product and looked for a listing from the epa.

I see quite a few products marketed under the 'Plant Success' name. Some of these contain fungi. Which product are you using?

There are fungi that provide a benefits, but it does take something from the plant in order to provide this. Also, fungi need a particular environment in order to come out of spore. I see more benefits(growth, health and nutrients) coming from beneficial bacteria than from Fungi.

I think there are a lot of good biological products out there right now and I think there are a lot of gardeners and farmers that don't know about all that is available.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 11:28PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)


I use Plant Success soluble which has all kinds of microorganisms. Personally, I think it is a great product to use if you're planting in razed area like new houses, buildings, etc where the soil is in bad shape. It's not something plants get from ordinary compost.

I mainly focus on Trichodermia fungi for fungicide. It really attacks bad fungi ones and I use corn meal to help them grow to where they overwhelm the bad ones. It takes 2-3 weeks though so not overnight fix. Actinovate seems to be a quick fix. Cost about the same as using Corn meal anyway so either way works, I guess. If you have had used synthetic fungicide extensively in the past (or the prior homeowners), plant success for plants and compost on the entire area would help re-introduce microorganism into the soil.

Biozome seems to be very interesting. Unfortunately, not many people have used it so I don't know just how good it is. John Evans from Alaska supposed used it as part of organic gardening and his vegetables are H_U_G_E. He claims that it made a significant improvement on his plants. I prefer to hear from ordinary gardeners that like to garden a a hobby (not owning a store selling it) but so far, I don't know who does. The problem with Kimmsr, he quickly shoots down everything without even giving them a try. Makes me mad. How do we advance in organic gardening if we don't give them a try and see what happens? Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't but someone has to try it. I'm going to see about a little vegetable gardening using it. Two small ones, one as control and one with biozome. If it doesn't work, oh well. it's only 18 dollars wasted and life goes on and learn something new. One thing that it claimed to do well is quick germination. That definitely works...

I'm not sure about more benefits from bacteria as Fungi tend to be dominant ones in the soil that's left undisturbed for many years esp in the forests where fungi biomass is much larger. Bacteria is the one that get the ball rolling for improving soil though but gradually fungi will take over and multiply in huge amount compared to bacteria.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Food web

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 7:11PM
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Here's what they are NOT telling you:

"Streptomyces lydicus strain WYEC 108 is a naturally occurring bacterium that is commonly found in soil" ... and if your soil doesn't have the right conditions, it won't thrive and kill fungi.

If your soil DOES have the right conditions, it will already be full of all kinds of Streptomyces and other soil fungi and the stuff you are applying is not really necessary.

The local varieties are usually best-adapted to the local soil quirks.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 8:06AM
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Some of what lazygardens says is true. The Actinovate product is in spore form and must have hospitable conditions in order to come out of spore. I have provided a link to the product label so you can determine if the product will help you.

However, if used as a foliar spray, it will not matter what is in your soil.

Also, just because soil has the "right conditions" does not mean it contains all strains of beneficial bacteria in the quantity needed to fight off pathogens.

I am not trying to push this product - in fact, there is a product that contains live, vegetative cultures (not spore) of bacteria that is better than this product.

Here is a link that might be useful: Actinovate Label

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 9:02PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

We have a local (San Antonio) organic researcher who has some experience with Actinovate. He says it is the only product that will prevent cottony root rot in fruit trees in Texas. Virtually every fruit tree in Texas will die from cottony root rot in just a few years. IF you are starting with an organic based soil and IF you are planting new trees, THEN you have a shot at extending the life of the tree with Actinovate. Dig the hole, dust the hole with Actinovate, and plant the tree. Keep it organic and you should have a good tree. He did a great demonstration in an apple orchard outside of San Antonio. He planted three trees like that. A few years later those three were the only trees living in the entire orchard.

Beyond that I would question the claims for Actinovate. Ordinary corn meal is a tried and true organic antifungal agent.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2010 at 11:48PM
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I don't doubt any of the claims in the description lynnmac posted. I doubt the AMOUNT of nutrients it provides would amaze anyone, but I am sure there are by-products of the bacteria that would become nutrients for the plants or other fungi or bacteria.

It takes a lot of time, money and science for a manufacturer to be able to call a product a fungicide. It does not mean it is effective against ALL fungi.

As far as cornmeal goes, it isn't the corn meal that is the fungicide, it is a microorganism(genus Trichoderm - a fungus) that lives in the cornmeal that has the fungicidal(against certain strains of fungus) properties. I would not bet my farm that the trichoderm fungus is 1) already available in my soil to grow in the corn meal and 2) that it will be effective against ANY form of fungus.

Be sure to research anything you plan to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas A&M plant pathology

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 12:33PM
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Evergreenagriculture, I note that you have recently joined GW. Welcome. First, thank you for posting the Texas A&M site with which many of our dedicated readers of this Forum are already familiar. They also are aware that Dchall and myself have posted many hours of writing about using cornmeal as a fungicide. Do some searching here.

I am looking for the right words, trying to be delicate. Please do not screw up or mislead our readers on the uses of cornmeal. At least not until you have done the years of experimenting I have. It is an excellent plant fungicide in certain situations. Just take the time to read through the Organic Lawn Forum for confirmation of this statement from all over the country.

As stated on the A&M site..."Trichoderma feed on mycelelium and sclerotia of Sclerotinia minor, Sclerotium rolfsii and all Rhizoctonia." We know from experience that any plant fungus in those families can be controlled using cornmeal, anywhere. I just do not have the time to write about all the uses for cornmeal but you should pick up some interesting discussions when you search the subject on GW.

And, if nothing else, cornmeal is a gentle grain fertilizer scattered about. BTW, it is the only fungicide (organic or inorganic) that will control Southern Blight.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 3:26PM
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Hello Nandina-

I appreciate your candor and no need to treat me with kid gloves. I may have just shown up here, but as you will find out I wonÂt usually say things I havenÂt at least researched a little. You will also see that I do not claim to know all based solely on MY experience and I donÂt take someoneÂs word just because they claim to be the expert.

I do see that D. Hall has a lot of experience and I do not intend to belittle that or try to attack him or anyone else here. I will, however, offer my research and knowledge and welcome open discussion of topics - and if I see something that I think needs correction then I will step up and offer my opinion.

I understand that I do not have any experience with cornmeal, but it is obvious to me that even though it may be effective against many fungi, it is not effective against ALL fungi. To tout this as a cure-all fungicide, would be wrong and does a disservice to this great forum. I just hate blanket statements  I admit it!

I havenÂt gone through the hundreds (I imagine) of threads that you and the other "writers" have created on the subject so I donÂt know what you have said in them, nor would I dredge up irrelevant topics to try to make a point. My point was a direct response to what Mr. Hall wrote.

What Lou wrote about feeding the fungi cornmeal was brilliant.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2010 at 10:40PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

I'm not sure what I said that started that. Did you (evergreen) misunderstand something? I am hesitant to call corn meal a fungicide specifically because it has no inherent ability to kill fungi. In fact it requires fungi to decompose it. Also it has a limited ability to kill fungi. But the diseases it works well on happen to be the ones gardeners and farmers are bothered by. Thus I call it an anti fungal agent. As you mentioned it is not anti fungal by itself. It is the Trichoderma family of fungi that do the deed. But I think corn meal does not provide Trichoderma itself. TAMU has never followed up on that original research since the 1990s but I wish they would. I believe there are other fungi that decompose corn meal early and the Trichoderma, already in the soil, feed and multiply on top of those fungi. Then when the Trichoderma population is greatly increased, other fungi fall prey to the Trich.

Our local organic gardening guy on the radio has been making the claim that corn meal only works on the disease-causing fungi and has no effect on the beneficial fungi. I can't quite swallow that one. He never points to any research on that one and otherwise there is no way to really know what damage there might be to the other fungi in the soil. My inclination is to believe that the overall effect of corn meal is good (my lawn returns in 3 weeks).

Baking soda, on the other hand, is an effective fungicide. It works on a broad spectrum of fungi. I call it non-selective but I know there are fungi that it does not have any effect on. It does not belong in the garden except under special circumstances and with great care.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2010 at 1:17AM
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Hello David-
Great information!

I think there is a lot of mis-information out for natural or organic alternatives - primarily because it is difficult to communicate complex issues with a single statement or without discussion.

I am sure there are properties to cornmeal that I don't fully understand - and I believe it does have value and can help fight some pathogenic fungi. Whether it does this on its own or with the help of other microorganisms is up for debate, I suppose.

I do try to stay on topic in these forums as much as possible and not hijack threads, so if anyone else has experience or thoughts on the original subject then we should get back to that.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2010 at 12:39AM
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I am a master gardener and have an applicators license as well. Thus I do organic tree and shrub spraying. I often use Actinovate and apply it with Neptune's Harvest Fertilizers. Most of the people who answered this post admitted they were just guessing. Hear the truth from an experienced applicator.
The stuff is flat out amazing. It will cure just about any disease out there that has it's origin in the roots. I don't just mean prevent disease. I mean cure advanced nasty diseases like Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium Wilt, Phytophthora etc. Also, it will colonize the leaves and prevent or control other nasties like mildews, spots, even anthracnose. However I have found that it really shines as a root treatment.
It has four modes of action including creating a substance that is a growth hormone. There is one drawback, and that is in very acid soil, below 5.0, it has little effect. It needs some organic matter in the soil as well as moisture for the spores to develop into viable colonies. For established trees and shrubs it needs to be applied to the entire root zone.
The lawns I treat do not brown out in the summer and are resistant to grubs and insects. But please understand that I always spray or deep root inject it with Neptune's Harvest. Neptune's Harvest is cold processed fish fertilizer and there is no better fert. in all the world. It gives the plant everything it could possibly need to grow perfect tissue that is naturally pest resistant. Think about it. What is going to be better, manure based fertilizers or fertilizer made from the whole organism?
I have almost fifty years experience on the land and now I have told you one of my best new secrets. Use it well.
Thank you, David

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 4:55PM
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Read the label on the Actinovate! Wear protective gear (to avoid allergic reactions, other possible reactions, consider how it works, if applying this as a foliar spray (Do I really want to apply it when it is very windy and/or the wind or air will dry it on the leaves very rapidly, or do I want to apply it during humid conditions, so that the spores will generate active bacteria quickly?). Is it going to be useful against the fungi against which I need some agent's help (powdery mildew and botrytis are the two fungi against which it claims effectiveness as a foliar agent), or should I look at something like Serenade, which contains a different bacterium that should be effective against more types of foliar diseases? It's your choice, and I'm trying it for the first time this week to compare it to Serenade, which has its own set of more specific cautions for the application of the product.
I would note that Actinovate gives a slight puff of bacterial spores as dust into your immediate environment when you open the package, so perhaps you would want to open it outdoors, instead of an indoors screen room, as I did a bit ago; my wife immediately sensed the dust in the air, even though she didn't know I had opened the package! She also reacted to the Serenade when outdoors in the vicinity of my spraying that product as a foliar spray.
I suggest using a mask, clothes that cover all parts of the body well, and washing those clothes after use of either spray solution, just as a precaution. Treat either one much as you would some of the non-organic sprays that you might fear, just for your own safety. BTW, some of those "safe soaps" that some organic gardeners use, the lithium-based soaps, are nothing like safe, either; you'd never want to get even a drop sprayed back into your eye, for example. Look up the cautions, and don't think that just because it has a certification for organic gardening use that it is safe...many mineral-based products that have no listing for organic gardening use are safer to the user than some of our favorite organic gardening products.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Oh boy...another food4wealth spammer.

We haven't had one of these losers around in a few weeks.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2013 at 9:17PM
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Contrary to what some people might want you to believe there are no "secrets" to organic gardening. Quite simply make your soil into a good healthy soil by adding adequate amounts of organic matter and your plants will grow up strong and healthy and do better at repelling insect pests and plant diseases. No magic elixirs, no voodoo, no fairy dust, just a soil well endowed with organic matter that is evenly moist but well drained.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:58AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

oops, posted to the wrong tab!
But, glad to see some feedback on Actinovate. There's not much discussion of it on GW.

This post was edited by davidrt28 on Sun, Nov 10, 13 at 19:06

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:01PM
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