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Thinking of Corn Gluten Meal? Read This First

The active ingredient in organic Preen and other similar pre-emergent weed control products is corn gluten meal, a highly expensive and marginally effective product.

The active ingredient in organic Preen and other similar pre-emergent weed control products is corn gluten meal, a highly expensive and marginally effective product.

With the forsythia blooming or ready to bloom in many areas of North America, that means the crabgrass seeds at the surface of your lawn will be germinating soon, too.

Corn gluten meal is sold as a pre-emergent weed control, primarily for crabgrass and other annual weeds of turf. Before you spend any money on this product, however, review this post from last April: http://www.safelawns.org/blog/index.php/2010/04/corn-gluten-meal-as-weed-control-20-years-later-the-jury-is-still-out/

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • It’s Only Natural Landscaping

    Great info Paul-

    I have moved away from using corn gluten because:
    It is so very expensive now,
    Its effectiveness has been questionable,
    Timing has to be perfect,
    The application rate is often more nutrients than the lawn needs:
    http://www.lawnreform.org/2011/02/a-caution-about-corn-gluten.html

    I’m getting often better results just by:
    soil testing & pH correction,
    building a customized treatment plan,
    adding calcium,
    top dressing,
    adding compost,
    overseeding,
    etc…

  • Brian

    Paul,

    So would you advise holding off on using corn gluten a season or two, if your lawn has a high percentage of weeds and needs soil conditioning-compost,calcium, aerating, etc?

  • http://healthyhappylawns.com John

    I treat 800 lawns, I used corn gluten for 10 years. I had great success controlling crabgrass with corn gluten. It needs at least 3 years to build up in the soil, to be effective. Only those customers that are truly commited will wait that long. I stopped using corn gluten 3 years ago, due to it’s rising cost. Those lawns that did recieve corn gluten for 3 years or more still have no crabgrass! So it does work, but is no longer cost effective to use. By applying lime high in Calcium this seems to help to control crabgrass.

    • Michele

      John, do you have a product you recommend?

  • Bill

    What high calcium lime products do you recommend?

  • Diane M Olson Schmidt

    I also have concerns about Corn Gluten, one is that it contains the corn that was processed from GMO corn(round up ready corn) and by using Corn Gluten, I do not want to add to any round up ingredients in the soil as I am adding to soil like, and round up sterilizes the soil. Even if it is labeled as an organic way to control lawn weeds, Corn Gluten is NOT certified organic, or labeled as nonGMO corn. I’m seeing alot of ‘Natural’ products,including natural fertilizers containing GMO ingredients such as corn gluten, soybean meal, cottonseed meal(and next year, alfalfa meal), unless it is labeled as nonGMO or certified organic, assume that it probably contains GMO ingredients.
    Other concerns and cautions that I have experienced is some lawn dieback(not burning out) from the Corn Gluten that is decreasing the soil like and actually if used for years, is making the soil sterile and unable to hold moisture,(like the article that round up ready corn and soybeans are wilting and dying in the fields due to the soil fungi that reacts with the round up ready genes and creates a toxic fungi that attacks the corn). I think that is what is happening to some of the lawns treated with corn gluten. As an Organic Landscaper, I no longer use Corn Gluten because it is too expensive and even though it is better than 24-D, it still creates problems for the soil. Also next year, there will be corn gluten from 24-D ready corn from this corn being planted this season–another reason to not use Corn Gluten. I am too using overseeding, compost, compost tea, etc. If I can find a certified organic Corn Gluten, I still might use it in spring is it needed from results of a soil test. Diane. LaceWing Gardening Services. Milwaukee WI

  • Michelle Murto

    Is all corn gluten meal created equal? I’m trying to advocate natural lawn care in my neighborhood and having trouble finding the right product. I’ve found feed-grade meal, agricultural use meal, bagged at garden shop meal, comes w/ or w/o an MSDS sheet and some say to wear long pants, wash after handling and may cause vomiting. I find this strange if it is indeed just corn gluten and I’m having trouble telling the differentce. Can you offer any help? Thanks greatly!
    Michelle Murto

    • Paul Tukey

      Michelle,
      No, all corn gluten meal is not created equally. First off, corn gluten meal is not corn meal. Secondly, all corn gluten meal is not prilled (or milled) the same way, which leads to differing levels of efficacy. Liquid corn gluten meal is also available, which still has even more questionable weed killing efficacy than the granular version of the product. When you’re shopping, be sure to look for corn gluten meal that is labeled as a “pre-emergent” weed control. Agricultural grade products that you can buy at a feed store may be less expensive, and may work well as a nitrogen source in fertilizer, but they won’t help you control weeds.
      Great question. Thanks.
      PT

      • Michele

        Paul,

        Thanks for the quick response. Our local Uncle Luke’s Feed Store claimed tht he was one of the only licensed Corn Gluten Meal suppliers in this area of Michigan and that anyone else was selling illegally. He also stated that his product was safe enough to ate and was just corn – which I found questionable. Do you have any recommendations of credable suppliers via internet or otherwise. I have 8 potential “safe lawn converts” in my area and I hope to be able to show them what organics can do.

  • Pingback: Alternative to Corn Gluten for Crabgrass? Try Compost | Safelawns Daily Post and Q&A Blog

  • Pingback: Understanding Corn Gluten Meal Vs. Corn Meal | Safelawns Daily Post and Q&A Blog

  • Micki Hunt

    I live in the DFW area and have St. Augustine which I fertilized Aug. 10. Have weeds like never before. When can I safely apply corn gluten meal without burning the grass? Didn’t realize that cgn is nitrogen.
    Thanks,
    Micki Hunt

  • Micki Hunt

    I live in the DFW area and have St. Augustine which I fertilized Aug. 10. Have weeds like never before. When can I safely apply corn gluten meal without burning the grass? Didn’t realize that cgn is nitrogen.
    Thanks,
    Micki Hunt

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