Will the real corn gluten please stand up?

Corn Gluten Meal for Weed and Crabgrass reductionSome lawn care suppliers and retailers are taking advantage of the demand for organic weed management to push ineffective products.

Corn gluten meal application, developed by Dr. Nick Christians of Iowa State University, works by making it hard for weed seeds to put down roots. The weather can have an effect on how well it works, but when applied carefully it will reduce the number of weeds that appear at the start of the season. What worries us is that some people are selling other products and calling them corn gluten meal, or are making promises for the products that just can’t be fulfilled.

Someone may tell you that corn gluten feed or distiller’s grain are the same thing as corn gluten meal. They are not, and they will not work. Even if they are putting down the real thing, you may only be getting a token amount – not nearly enough for it to do its job.

To get ANY control of crabgrass and weeds, a minimum of 15 pounds per 1000 square feet has to be applied, and the corn gluten meal has to be at least 58% to 60% protein. Some suppliers have put down as little as two pounds per 1000 square feet and mixed it into their fertilizer so it is spread over four visits! Worse, corn gluten meal only works before weeds appear so applying it late in the year isn’t going to help you much. Plus it is also a fertilizer, so once a weed has put down roots the product will only feed them – anyone who promises to kill off your weeds with corn gluten meal is selling you a bill of goods.

No matter how attractive a budget price might be, it’s no bargain if the product or application is useless.

Unless it is soaked out of the soil by heavy rains, an application of corn gluten meal can protect a lawn for five to six weeks during germination season.

  • chris

    I bought bradfield corn gluten luscious lawn 9-0-0 is this s good product for crabgrass prevention. I live in concord nc should I put this down in Feb last week or begining March


    • It is a very good fertilizer and that alone will help to reduce crabgrass. The nitrogen (9) and organic matter will help thicken your lawn which is the best weed defence. Corn gluten works only to reduce the # of seeds that germinate. The best way to know when to apply is based on phenology (essentially: the study of how the timing and life cycle of plants and insects are influenced by weather, like an animal knowing when to hibernate or when a plant flowers or an insect will mate).
      You want to get corn gluten down before “forsythia” finish their bloom.
      Also, it is important to water right away, then ensure you have dry weather for 2 days after to get maximum effect.
      In my experience, seed management works best- Always hand-pull crabgrass plants when the seeds start to form to reduce the amount of seeds that could potentially germinate in subsequent years.

  • Pingback: Crabgrass invasion | LawnSavers Blog()

  • Mike

    I have used Scott Corn Glutten for 3 years as directed, in spring and in the early fall and my opinion is that is it next to useless. I used to have a great lawn when using a chemical weed and feed and now my lawn is terrible and we pull dandelions by hand at least 6 times a year.

    We have very acid soil and apply lime at least once a year.

    I just wish there was something that worked!

    • I hear you. Its hard to distinguish the difference with Corn Gluten after 3 years when it can only really offer about 60% seed germination control over that time… It’s kind of like saying, I know I lost 10 lbs over the past 3 years, and during that time I also only gained 8 lbs., but i sure don’t feel like I lost any weight… (does that make sense to anyone but me?)

  • phil

    Doe’s anybody know a supplier of corn gluten meal in the uk as i am very interested in this product.

    • sorry, i am unaware of a manufacturer in the UK. there are better options though if you are trying to manage weeds organically…

  • Brian Healy

    I am interested in using a corn gluten as a pre-emergent. Can you suggest a product? I was looking at one on but I am not sure this is a good one. I live in AZ.

    • Hi Brian,
      I’m not a big proponent of Corn gluten as an effective crabgrass suppressant. The problem is that (according to its inventor, Nick Christians, professor of horticulture at Iowa State University) and our own field trials, it takes about 3 years for it to show “up to” 60% less crabgrass seed Germination.
      So in 3 years, you might have 60% less seeds germinating- WOW, What a letdown!! That is pretty hard to get excited about, and especially hard to even notice. Check out our video for the best way to control and prevent crabgrass in your lawn.
      I hope this helps,

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