Tricounty News

Control crabgrass with corn gluten meal

Corn gluten meal may be the answer for homeowners that are searching for a natural way to control crabgrass and other annual weeds in the lawn. Corn gluten meal is a natural non-toxic substitute for synthetic pre-emergence herbicides. Corn gluten meal is a by-product of commercial corn milling that contains the protein fraction of the corn and poses no health risk to people or animals. Because it contains 10-percent nitrogen by weight, corn gluten meal doubles as an organic fertilizer. By applying corn gluten meal at the recommended rate twice a year, you are giving your lawn a total of four pounds of nitrogen annually, which is sufficient for your lawns needs. It contains no phosphorus and potassium and can be used in those locations where a phosphorus free product is desired. It is important to note that corn gluten meal is effective only against seeds and does not kill existing plants. Annual weeds that are already up and growing will not be killed but most of the seeds they produce later in the season shouldn't sprout if corn gluten meal has been properly applied. Likewise, existing perennial weeds like quackgrass, plantain, and dandelions will not be effected either and will continue to come back from one year to the next because their roots survive most winters. What corn gluten meal will do is prevent the seeds that these weeds shed each year from sprouting so the population of perennial weeds, particularly plantain and dandelions, will decrease. Don't expect to see instant results from using corn gluten meal. Every year you properly apply corn gluten meal should give you better results and by the fourth year weed control should be good. Corn gluten meal is available in powdered and pelletized forms, both of which work equally well. Corn gluten works best when applied in early May and mid-August. Spread the product evenly at the rate of twenty pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Water it lightly into the soil to activate it. The August application is important because weeds like dandelions and chickweed produce seeds that sprout in the fall, their roots live over winter, and they have a head start the following spring. Corn gluten meal can also be used safely in gardens to keep weed seeds from sprouting around perennial plants. It can also be used around bedding and vegetable transplants after they have been in the soil long enough to have become established. Wait until seedlings are up and growing well before applying corn gluten meal to flower or vegetable gardens where the seeds have been sown directly in the soil. Remember that corn gluten meal is non-selective and will stop nearly all seeds from germinating. A potential problem with corn gluten meal is that extensive moisture and soil microbial activity can reduce its effectiveness. You can control the amount of water you apply right after applying the corn gluten meal, but you cannot control rainfall. Price and availability may also be a drawback. While it is becoming more readily available, corn gluten meal is still significantly more costly compared to synthetic pre-emergence herbicides. If you have a large lawn that requires a large amount of the corn gluten meal, try calling local feed mills to find a source of corn gluten meal in bulk. Although it acts more slowly than synthetic pre-emergence herbicides and may be somewhat more costly, it is a chemical free way to control crabgrass and other pesky weeds in our lawns. If you are looking for an organic way to control weeds in the lawn, consider using corn gluten meal.