What is corn gluten?

Q: What is corn gluten, and where can I purchase it?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Tina from IN

A: Tina,

Corn gluten meal is a protein found in corn, foods that contain corn and corn by-products. For many years it has been used as an ingredient in livestock feeds and pet foods. In the early 1990s, Dr. Nick Christians of Iowa State University discovered its potential as a preemergence herbicide.


On established lawns it prevents normal roots from developing in crabgrass, dandelions, Bermuda grass and other common weeds, by breaking down cellular walls and preventing the tiny feeder roots from absorbing the moisture necessary for growth. It can be used safely around established plants and will not harm plants, humans, animals, beneficial soil organisms or the environment.

According to the EPA, laboratory studies have shown that corn meal gluten has no known adverse heath effects in humans or animals (which is good, since we eat products containing it all of the time).Corn meal gluten is usually applied in granular form in the spring and fall using a lawn spreader. Applications at a rate of 10 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft. are successful in controlling as much as 85% weed control after two years and 91% after three years.


As an added benefit, it also provides balanced fertilization for your grass. A higher rate of application (20 lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft.) provides even better control, because the percentage of weed control increases with higher application rates. The key is knowing which type of weeds you're trying to control, when they emerge in your area, and then timing your application of the corn meal gluten appropriately.

Currently, there are several companies holding licenses to sell products containing corn meal gluten. In Indiana, Garden's Alive sells it in a product called WOW! For a list of other licensed manufacturers, see the list at the University of Wisconsin's Urban Horticultural Website.

Hope this helps!


About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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By Jan (Guest Post)
April 25, 20060 found this helpful

I don't know exactly what it is.I do know that it is used to kill weeds etc. in lawns.It takes a couple of years before it kills everything.If you live in a farming community you can get it from a grain elevator.If not maybe large garden center would have it.I hope this helps you .P.S> it is non toxic

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 29, 20060 found this helpful

I do Nutro pet food demos and one of the ingredients is corn gluten meal and I was told it was just the best white part of the corn, no yellow which is hard to digest.

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