Does Cornmeal Stop Weed Seeds From Germinating

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Does Corn Gluten Really Prevent Weeds? Answer : Corn gluten is a popular all-natural pre-emergent herbicide that will stop the germination of certain seedlings when properly applied. That means Using Cornmeal Gluten In The Garden Official Blog of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Does Corn Gluten Really Prevent Weeds?

Answer: Corn gluten is a popular all-natural pre-emergent herbicide that will stop the germination of certain seedlings when properly applied. That means that it keeps weed seeds from sprouting. For this reason, it is important to apply it well before cool-season weed seeds get going in late winter and spring and warm-season weed seeds get going in summer.

Corn gluten is an all-natural byproduct of the corn industry. Essentially, it is comprised of corn protein. For this reason, it is not harmful to people or wildlife, while stopping some weed seeds from sprouting. With that said, there are some different opinions and studies with varying reports on its efficacy. Here are the two sides.

Corn Gluten As a Pre-Emergent Herbicide

A 1990s Iowa State University study showed that corn gluten was an effective pre-emergent herbicide for some weeds. They found that it was most effective in stopping weedy grasses, such as crabgrass, as well as some broadleaf weeds, such as chickweed and dandelions. Corn gluten also contains 10% nitrogen, so it helps feed plants as well.

Corn Gluten’s Herbicidal Short-Falls

Some studies show corn gluten, when not properly applied at the right time, can feed weeds due to its high nitrogen content. That’s because it does not negatively impact emerged weeds, so these will need to be hoed out or hand-weeded before applying any pre-emergent. It is also important to note that corn gluten does not work on all weed seeds. A Washington State Univerisity overview of corn gluten states: “Corn gluten meal is not a selective product, nor is it effective on all weed types. Several species of weeds, flowers, and vegetables are inhibited by corn gluten meal, while others are not. Effectiveness in greenhouse trials generally increases with [the] application rate (as does the cost).”

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As for me, I rarely apply pre-emergents. This is because I favor various mulches and hand weeding to stop weeds in my gardens. For me, these are the two best methods to keep weeds away. Here is an article along these lines.

Does Cornmeal Stop Weed Seeds From Germinating

Using Cornmeal Gluten In The Garden

Is this something you have tried? We would love to hear your successes and failure along with other suggestions for organic weed and pest control, so we can share the knowledge. Corn gluten meal (CGM), is the by-product of corn wet milling. It is mainly used to feed cattle, fish, dogs, and poultry and as a food source in some less developed areas of the world. Accidental research has found that Gluten meal is a natural substitute for chemical pre-emergent herbicides, which means it can stops weeds from germinating. There appears to be lots of evidence that shows through using this cornmeal, results in a fantastic weed killer or weed preventer. Showing that it is a great way to eradicate weeds without the threat of toxic chemicals something that we are all for here at Friendly Organics. If you have pets or small children or prefer the more natural route, gluten meal is a much safer option.

As I mentioned the weed killing attributes were discovered by accident through research carried out by Iowa State University, they were actually looking into disease research but observed that cornmeal gluten acts as an herbicide as it kept grass and other seeds, such as crabgrass, dandelions and chickweed, from sprouting.

However, 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 but it will help prevent their spread via seeds.

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Perennial weeds will not be damaged either as their roots survive and they return each year, as mentioned cornmeal will stop their seeds becoming further plants so reducing the weeding you have to carry out. With consistent use of gluten meal products, these weeds will gradually decline and eventually you should have a weed free garden.

The use of cornmeal gluten can be extended to the lawn element of your garden as grass is a well established plant and should not be effected.. 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. Be sure to wait to apply in flower and vegetable beds where seeds are sown at least until the seeds are grown up a bit. If applied too early, it can prevent these seeds from sprouting. Using Cornmeal Gluten to Kill Ants Cornmeal gluten is also a popular method to control ants. Pouring it wherever you see ants traveling is the best option. They will pick up the gluten and take it to the nest where they will feed on it. Because the ants cannot digest this cornmeal product, they will starve to death. It may take up to a week or so before you see your ant population dwindling.

Does Cornmeal Stop Weed Seeds From Germinating

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Client’s Request: I’ve heard that I can use yellow corn meal to control weeds. Is this doable and will it hurt the soil?

Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk with your question about cornmeal and weeds. I am going to assume that you mean corn meal gluten (CGM), a by-product of corn starch manufacturing that is marketed to home gardeners for pre-emergent control of weeds, especially in lawns. Yellow corn meal makes great polenta, but won’t do much for weeds!

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University of California research has not shown CGM to be an effective weed control strategy, but in a lawn, it may work because it is high in nitrogen and will feed the lawn, making it more dense, and likely crowding out weeds. Lawns already fed with high nitrogen fertilizers probably won’t show any significant benefit from CGM.

CGM will have no effect on already-emerged weeds; it only suppresses some seeds’ ability to sprout. It is sometimes used though where only organic herbicides are permitted, but its effectiveness is still questionable. It should not have adverse effects on soil. Because it is high in nitrogen, it could be beneficial if your soil is deficient in that nutrient.

Better weed control can be achieved by heavily mulching the area, which will prevent weed seeds from sprouting. At this time of the year, late winter, when many of our weeds have already come up, you can try hand-pulling or hoeing out the small weeds. They are always easiest to control when they are small. This link will give you great information from UC about weed management in the landscape: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7441.html. The key to successfully reducing the weed problem in future years is to make sure none of this year’s weeds go to seed.

Weeds in our gardens are frustrating and seem to be extra-abundant this year because of all the rain we’ve had. Good luck!

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