Corn Gluten Meal
Is Corn Gluten Meal a Pre-Emergent or a Fertilizer?
It is actually both!
Corn Gluten Meal (CGM) is both a fertilizer and a pre-emergent. It has been used for years as a staple ingredient of dog food and other pet feeds. Through a technique called 'wet-milling' corn is processed and the liquids are extracted. It has a consistency of "Grape Nuts" cereal and not an unpleasant smell at all.
I have used CGM for for over two years. I start applying it in the Summer, then again in the Fall and Winter. I skip it in the Spring. I can tell you first hand that it is a great fertilizer for organic gardens and lawns. As far as the pre-emergent qualities, I think retailers give it a little too much fanfare. The best way to eliminate weeds is to have healthy grasses growing. Nature doesn't like a vacuum so that bare patch of ground that you think has a designer touch quality to it is going to drive you nuts until you mulch it with organic material.
Unlike the claims the chemical companies, Corn Gluten Meal really is a slow release fertilizer. When the chemical companies make claims about slow release you must keep in mind that they are comparing to other chemicals. Synthetic chemicals are notorious for leeching off lawns and into the storm drains.
Organic materials break down slowly and release nutrients over the course of weeks. Chemicals breakdown rapidly in comparison and can completely degrade if there is enough percipitation.
CGM is a perfect 9-0-0 fertilizer that is 100% organic. Total Nitrogen is about .077% Water soluble Nitrogen and 8.23% water insoluble Nitrogen.
CGM provides a long term slow release feeding that lasts 8-10 weeks. You can use it at a rate of 50 pounds per 2500 square feet. So if you have a 5,000 square foot lot you're going to need 100 lbs. of CGM to fertilize.
It will start to break down as soon as it is exposed to moisture, so you want to keep it DRY until ready to apply. You can use a regular old spreader, just dump it in and start walking. It doesn’t get much more simple. Again this is NOT a food grade product, so no nibbling!
Seriously, it comes out of a factory processing facility and dumped into trucks. I use a paper respirator mask so I’m not inhaling any kind of dust. There is no odor, only a faint smell of corn, quite refreshing considering the nauseating smell of chemical fertilizer. ( And you’re not going to glow green at night and your kids aren't going to get some weird disease either) I guess the way it could be a problem is if you are allergic to it. Then you get the kid up the street to spread it. No problem.
Does it work? You are going to have to apply at least one full season and most generally two fully benefit. Whether you see it as a pre-emergent or a fertilizer that grows your turf so thick that weed seeds can't get any sun to germinate, the choice is yours.
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