What is Corn Gluten?
Corn Gluten is a biproduct of the process of milling corn. As corn is a primary ingredient in hog feed but has been refined and developed as an organic crabgrass and weed suppressant. With our struggles in Ontario with being required to use all-natural products, corn gluten might sound like the miracle product we’ve all been waiting for. It is important to be aware that it is a very temperamental product with pros and cons to consider before applying it to your lawn.
How is it Applied?
Corn gluten is a very particular product that requires very specific conditions in order to be effective. Approximately ¼” of water should be applied to the affected areas a few days before the application takes place. This allows for the plant to have its pores open to receive the corn gluten after it has been applied. Without that water, the shoots of the crabgrass or weeds will not be receptive, and the product will not work. Corn gluten is applied at a rate of 20 lbs per 1,000 square feet of grass. It is important not to underapply this product as it will not work without enough of the product to be absorbed by the plants you are trying to eliminate. Another important part to consider is that the first application (no matter how perfect the condition) will only control approximately 60% of the overall seeds that will be prevented so it is important to factor in multiple applications to be applied in the spring to maximize its ability to be effective. Finally, 1 day after the application it is key to apply more water to the area to keep the plants wanting to absorb it into their central nervous system to effectively kill the germination and prevent future growth.
Does it Work?
It is important to note that this is a pre-emergent product (applied before the seeds germinate) and is ineffective if the crabgrass or weed seeds have already germinated. This is why timing of this application is critical to its success. Personally, given the specifics that are required, this costly product requires so many specific variables to be perfect that I am not an advocate for its use.
What is the Best Way to Control Crabgrass?
The tried, tested and true way to control crabgrass in Ontario is by physically removing the root and the shoot of the plant by pulling it out manually. I know this is not an ideal solution but by using a weed puller it can make the job go more smoothly with less effort. Always ensure to replace the soil you removed with new soil and grass seed to help fill in the space to prevent future issues.
The long and the short of it is this: Corn gluten *could* work as long as one understands the particulars that go into applying and handling of the product. Be weary of anyone offering this service as an effective control and be sure to ask the right questions to ensure your money is being spent responsibly to achieve that beautiful, healthy lawn we are all striving for.