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Does Corn Gluten work effectively to control weeds in my lawn?

Short answer: A little bit.

Here are the facts:

Corn gluten is a product that can be used for 2 purposes depending on the rate of application.

There is a lot of misinformation out there put forth by advocates of organic and all-natural products that are really hopeful to see a 100% successful natural herbicide invented (authors note: so am I!).

Unfortunately, Corn gluten is not the wonder-product many would like to believe.

Typically it contains approximately  10% nitrogen by weight. (you need to apply 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft.) to use for weed-inhibiting activity. (by law, only Health Canada registered products with a PCP# include this recommended rate)  other “fertilizer-only” versions are only allowed to offer the 10 lbs./1000 sq.ft. rate.

Dr. Nick E. Christians from Iowa State is the main researcher who discovered corn gluten’s ability to affect crabgrass plants by inhibiting root development.  It DOES NOT prevent germination.

It simply affects young seedlings from developing root systems (SOMETIMES).

As a Fertilizer it will add nitrogen to the lawn to green it up.  It is not considered a slow release fertilizer, it greens up fast and fades away fast too.

As a Crabgrass Management tool, it needs to be a registered product for this purpose.  It must be applied at double the rate to get any benefit for crabgrass prevention. Dr. Christian’s studies and others, show it takes 2-3 years of applications to get to about 50-60% control of crabgrass.  THAT’S REALLY LOW, and not normally noticeable since crabgrass plants can easily put out hundreds of seeds per individual plant, every year!

At double the rate, it can also cause surge growth, (fast growth) that fades quick as the nitrogen source depletes (there is no slow release in it) which is very stressful on a lawn in the long term. http://www.hort.iastate.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/cornglut.pdf

Its main benefit is that it fertilizes the grass, and grass that is fertilized well, will grow a thick healthy stand of grass that prevents weed growth naturally.  So fertilize, but if I were you, use a more balanced slow release fertilizer that has a wider spectrum of benefits than just colour.  It’s a very expensive source of fertilizer for what it does! There is much better value out there.

Quick Notes:

  • It must be applied precisely 2 weeks before germination of the weeds to have any affect.
    Weed germination must be followed by a 5 day dry period to have optimal effect.
  • There is NO post emergence control of ANY weed!
  • IF it works, it will also prevent grass seed germination, which is an important part of healthy lawn care.
  • Has a very sweet taste and smell that attracts bees and mice.

Additional research can be found at: http://www.hort.iastate.edu/horticulture-research/corn-gluten-meal-research/

Bottom line: Any well-fertilized lawn will significantly reduce weeds control 90% over 1-3 years. Further weed inhibiting activity is achieved by proper mowing and watering (cultural practices).

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  • Coping with Covid Update: (04/06/20)

    Hi Everyone, 

    I would like to update you on how we are handling the most recent updates from the Ontario government. I want to reassure you that in every decision we make around COVID-19, our number one priority is the health and safety of our employees and customers. Safety and honesty are our two most important core values 

    The Ontario government extended the emergency order on April 3rd until at least April 13th and revised the essential services list. The revision to the list made it less clear if we could operate right now. In the spirit of safety for our customers, employees, and the general public, wbelieve it is best to temporarily pause our service while we seek further clarification from the government. 

    Our office will be closed but we will continue to serve you by working from home, so please reach out to us by phone or email and we would be more than happy to provide advice and respond to any questions regarding your account and services Please be patient with us, we will get back to you as fast as possible. 

    I am confident we will still be able to perform services safely and efficiently for you later this Spring. 

    To put it bluntly, we have contingency plans for our contingency plans!  So, please rest assured that we are well equipped to serve you professionally and expeditiously as soon as we are authorized
    Every year, whether it is an ice storm or other factors; we have always targeted starting our services between early April and early May, so it is still very early right now, and we will have plenty of time to “catch up” if the delay is extended.  Remember, we are all in this together and we could always modify and enhance our services to still provide a highly valuable service in a tighter timeframe. 

    In the meanwhile, we continue to prepare for the season in the following ways: 

    • Technicians are exercising and stretching and reading various trade articles 
    • Taking online professional development courses through Cornell University Turfgrass Extension online and other Turf Education sites 
    • Making videos of lawn issues to help our customers 
    • Our customer success team is working and available to help you 

    To ensure the health of your lawn, we will be sending out some tips on how you can prepare your lawn for the season in the meantime! Did you know: If you were a LawnSavers customer last year, our slowrelease winterizer fertilizer has supplied your lawn with enough nutrients to reach well into May! 

    Look for our next video on what you can do on your lawn in the coming days.
    Heres a video to help right now: http://lawnsave.rs/qL  More tips available on IG, FB and Twitter! 

    As a family owned local business of 30 years, we genuinely appreciate each and every one of you and promise that we will do our part to ensure our mutual safety and be on your lawn as soon as possible.  

    appreciate your patience during this challenging time.  We promise to keep communicating with you. 

    Thank you in advance,
    Kyle Tobin
    Cheif Environmental Officer