Cornmeal is the latest natural weed killer that has been making the rounds on social media. Is it effective? Learn more. Cornmeal gluten is known as a natural substitute for chemical pre-emergent herbicides. Using this cornmeal as weed killer is a great way to eradicate weeds without the threat of toxic chemicals. Learn more here. Recent social media posts suggest using household cornmeal to control garden weeds. Looks simple enough, but does it work? Cornmeal is simply ground corn that we use in cooking. It is an essential ingredient in cornbread and corn muffins. Although it might add some nutrients when sprinkled on the garden, it likely does not have any effect on weeds.
Cornmeal as Weed Killer?
The quest for the perfect weed killer has led to some interesting preparations. You’ll find natural remedies that range from using boiling water to vinegar and soap. While many of these remedies work, they tend to be difficult to implement on an entire batch of weeds. They also have only short term effects.
Cornmeal is the latest natural weed killer that has been making the rounds on social media. The prospect of being able to kill weeds with a simple sprinkle of cornmeal is exciting. Most people find cornmeal to be cheap and readily available, but the real question is does it work?
What is Cornmeal vs. Corn Gluten Meal?
The biggest mistake that most people take with this natural weed remedy is running out to buy cornmeal from the grocery store shelves. The type of cornmeal that you eat is not the same as what you need for weed killing purposes.
The cornmeal in your pantry is made from ground-up corn kernels. This is what you use as an ingredient in recipes for cornbread and other dishes.
Corn gluten meal is a byproduct that is created during the wet milling process of making cornmeal. It is not meant for humans to eat, but it is sometimes used in pets and cattle feed.
Since corn gluten meal has high levels of protein, nitrogen, and oils, it is also used for lawn fertilization and weed control purposes. It is sold in lawn and gardening stores rather than at your local grocery store.
How Do People Use Cornmeal as a Weed Killer?
Corn gluten meal is found in both pellets and powdered forms. The application process involves spreading it in a specific amount that is based upon how many square feet of ground needs to be covered.
After the meal is distributed evenly on the ground, you then need to water the lawn lightly to activate the oils. If the application does work, it is only effective for around 5 to 6 weeks. Then, the meal must be reapplied.
Does It Work on All Weeds?
This method only works on weeds that have not sprouted yet. People often use it on annual weeds such as purslane. Keep in mind that it will not work on perennial weeds that have already established a root system.
How Effective Is It?
There have been multiple studies on the use of corn gluten meal as an effective weed killer with mixed results. The primary issue with this method is the difficulty of applying it at just the right time to knock out the weed seeds.
Weeds grow throughout the year in Arizona. Even annual weeds may occasionally pop up before you expect them in the spring. Once they do, this method is not effective at all. It also requires frequent reapplications. Keeping up with this method can be frustrating for busy property owners.
What Are My Other Options for Dealing With Weed Problems?
Pre-emergent sprays work similarly to corn gluten meal by suppressing weed growth at the seed level, but it is a little different. A pre-emergent spray prevents seed germination. The seeds never develop roots or sprouts.
Even if you choose to experiment with corn gluten meal, you can still expect to need post-emergent weed spraying. This method gets rid of weeds that are already visible above the ground that the meal cannot kill.
So what’s the verdict? Corn gluten meal may help with preventing weeds from emerging from your lawn. This only works if you are diligent about following the proper application process and okay with it not always working.
There are also more effective methods for getting rid of those unsightly plants. Proper weed control involves a careful plan that addresses the types of weeds that appear in your lawn at every stage of growth.
Cornmeal As Weed Killer And Pest Control: How To Use Cornmeal Gluten In The Garden
Cornmeal gluten, commonly referred to as corn gluten meal (CGM), is the by-product of corn wet milling. It is used to feed cattle, fish, dogs, and poultry. Gluten meal is known as a natural substitute for chemical pre-emergent herbicides. Using this cornmeal as weed killer is a great way to eradicate weeds without the threat of toxic chemicals. If you have pets or small children, gluten meal is a great option.
Gluten Cornmeal as Weed Killer
Researchers at Iowa State University discovered by accident that cornmeal gluten acts as an herbicide while they were doing disease research. They saw that corn gluten meal kept grass and other seeds, such as crabgrass, dandelions, and chickweed from sprouting.
It is important to note that cornmeal gluten is only effective against seeds, not plants that are mature, and is most effective with corn gluten having at least 60% proteins in it. For annual weeds that are growing, plain cornmeal products will not kill it. These weeds include:
Perennial weeds will not be damaged either. They pop back up year after year because their roots survive under the soil over winter. Some of these include:
However, cornmeal gluten will stop the seeds that these weeds shed in the summer so that the weeds will not increase. With consistent use of gluten meal products, these weeds will gradually decline.
How to Use Cornmeal Gluten in the Garden
Many people use corn gluten on their lawns, but it can be safely and effectively used in gardens as well. Using gluten cornmeal in gardens is a great way to keep weed seeds from sprouting and will not damage existing plants, shrubs, or trees.
Be sure to follow the application instructions on the package and apply before weeds start to grow. Sometimes this can be a very tight window, but is best done in early spring. In flower and vegetable beds where seeds are sown, be sure to wait to apply at least until the seeds are grown up a bit. If applied too early, it can prevent these seeds from sprouting.
Tip: If you have large areas to cover, you can try a spray form for ease of application. Apply every four weeks, or after heavy rains, during the growing season to maintain effectiveness.
Organic weed control: Corn meal gluten
Recent social media posts suggest using household cornmeal to control garden weeds. Looks simple enough, but does it work?
Cornmeal is simply ground corn that we use in cooking. It is an essential ingredient in cornbread and corn muffins. Although it might add some nutrients when sprinkled on the garden, it likely does not have any effect on weeds.
Corn gluten meal (CGM), on the other hand, is an industrial by-product of grain wet-milling. It is used as feed material for cattle, poultry, fish, and dogs. Kelly Allsup, horticulture educator with University of Illinois Extension explains more about using corn gluten for organic weed control in lawns and gardens.
In 1988, Iowa State scientist Nick Christians discovered that CGM is a growth regulator by accident. During an experiment, he studied the effects of five corn derivatives, among them corn gluten meal, on the survival of potted creeping bentgrass. In a surprise result, CMG had a profound effect on the growth and development of the grass, suppressing its growth by 80 percent at the lowest dose applied and 100 percent at twice the dose.
Eager to find out more about the weed-suppressing ability of corn meal gluten, Christians tested it as a herbicide against grasses such as crabgrass. Field tests in the late 1980s that applied 20 pounds of CMG per 1,000 square feet in the spring with another application in the later summer to early fall gave good control. This procedure controlled 60 percent of weeds in the first year, 80 percent in the second, and 90 percent in the third.
He also showed that CMG is an effective pre-emergent herbicide, suppressing other grasses and broadleaf weeds, such as annual bluegrass, black medic, buckhorn plantain, lambsquarters, dandelion, foxtail, purslane, and redroot pigweed. Growers can use it for controlling weeds in strawberries, radishes, onions, garlic, saffron, herbs, and grapes. As a bonus, CMG is an excellent fertilizer.
Allsup notes that success of CMG depends on some environmental factors. “Application timing is critical because it must be done before weed seeds germinate. The highest efficiency is observed during the third and fourth year of treatment. Weed plants that have already germinated will not be controlled,” she explained.
Equally important, Allsup noted that CMG must contain 60 percent protein. There are brands on the market that do not contain enough protein to be effective. Allsup also advises against watering the lawn after application, or applying CMG soon after a rainfall, because wetness will reduce its effectiveness.
The take-home message is that a homeowner who would like to try organic weed control with corn meal gluten should acquire the appropriate product, apply it at the right time before weeds germinate, and apply from year to year. Check local garden centers and nurseries to see if the product is available.