Corn gluten meal

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Corn gluten meal (CGM) is the principal protein of corn (maize) endosperm consisting mainly of zein and glutelin.[1] It is a byproduct of corn processing that has historically been used as an animal feed. Despite the name, "corn gluten" does not contain true gluten, which is formed by the interaction of gliadin and glutenin proteins.



In 1985, Dr. Nick Christians of Iowa State University discovered that CGM displayed pre-emergent herbicidal effects during a series of turf grass experiments.[2] The use of corn gluten meal as an herbicide was patented in 1991,[2] but, like many food-related substances used for gardening, is not regulated in the US.[3]

CGM targets a range of plants including small-seeded annual and perennial herbs. It is most frequently used in lawns,[4] but may be applied to gardens and fields as well. Large-seeded weeds seem unaffected.

The corn gluten meal breaks down over time as an organic nitrogen source (NPK rating of 10-0-0).[5]

Proteins in CGM inhibit root formation on newly germinated seeds, killing the plant. Applications must be timed so that the CGM is present and effective as seeds are germinating.

Subsequent research has not been conclusive regarding the effectiveness of corn gluten as a preemergent.[6]


CGM is applied using a spreader or even by hand: the material is essentially harmless if not inhaled, and is, in fact, edible (though not particularly palatable). On lawns, CGM is applied in early spring (usually timed phenologically by the blooming of crocus or forsythia), and again in the autumn. If the lawn is overseeded, CGM should either be applied at least six weeks before sowing, or two weeks afterwards.


Though very safe to use and nontoxic,[4] CGM should not be applied to areas where it is likely to wash directly into watersheds (it is a nitrogen source). Otherwise it is ecologically safe.

Animal feed[edit]

CGM is used as an inexpensive protein source for pet foods. CGM is an especially good source of the amino acid cysteine,[7] but must be balanced with other proteins for lysine.

It is commonly used as livestock feed, including poultry and fish. It is a good source of protein, energy and pigments.[8]


  1. ^ 21 C.F.R. 184.1321
  2. ^ a b "Corn Gluten Meal Research Page". Iowa State University of Science and Technology. Archived from the original on 2008-07-11. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  3. ^ Environmental Protection Agency (1996-03-06). "Exemption of Certain Pesticide Substances From Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Requirements". Federal Register. 61 (45): 8876–8879. Retrieved 2008-05-24.
  4. ^ a b "EPA Fact Sheet". Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  5. ^ "Turf:Corn Gluten Meal". Retrieved 2006-12-09.
  6. ^ Cardozo, Anna. "Weed Management in Lawns Guidelines--UC IPM".
  7. ^,66,63,17,1,Documents&MediaID=1303&Filename=Corn_in_Pet_Food.pdf Archived 2010-11-27 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Heuzé V., Tran G., Sauvant D., Renaudeau D., Lessire M., Lebas F., 2015. Corn gluten meal. Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. Last updated on October 29, 2015, 14:09