Dallas Morning News - May 13, 2021
Molasses: How, When and For What
From reading my past columns, books and other writings, you may have gathered that the main molasses I use black strap molasses. I really don't, because it's expensive and too difficult to use. It'll work for the different tasks molasses is used for, but there are better and more cost effective options. Any sugar will work for organic soil building and help with pest control, but molasses is best because it contains more nutrients and trace minerals. The agricultural molasses products found in farm stores and garden centers are the best choices.
Molasses helps build healthy soil by feeding microbes, especially bacteria. One highly beneficial strain of bacteria, Azotobacter, can fix nitrogen from the air. Gardeners get a nice green-up to their turf grasses and other plants after applying a good compost or other organic fertilizer along with molasses.
Agricultural molasses costs less than blackstrap cooking molasses
For soil help, liquid molasses is normally sprayed or poured at 2 oz. per gallon of water to cover anywhere from 500 to 1000 sq. ft. It is a major ingredient in Garrett Juice but is also an effective foliar feeding material by itself. It can be used for acreage or agriculture at 1-2 gallons per acre for soil application or for foliar application at 2 quarts per acre.
Dry molasses is different, and it really isn't dried molasses. It's a grain residue carrier, such as bits of soy meal, that has been sprayed with liquid molasses. It's an excellent microbe stimulator, and it repels fire ants. As with any molasses, use any time of the year at 15-20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. Farmers and ranchers can use it at lower rates and still get acceptable results. As little as 100-200 lbs. per acre can be beneficial. Apply when the air and ground are dry to avoid creating a sticky mess. It cannot be mixed with water and sprayed.
For fire ant control, dry molasses should be applied to the entire site at 20 lbs. per 1000 sq. ft. Individual mounds can be killed with two oz. of orange oil and 2 oz. of liquid molasses in a gallon of water.
Dry molasses shown on the right is used in bed preparation, as a mild fertilizer to help build the health of the soil and as a fire ant control product (lava sand is on the left)
Molasses added to organic pest control products makes them more powerful and increases the time of effectiveness. The usual rate of 1 oz. of liquid per gallon of Bti products for control of caterpillars works well. For general insect control, use 2 oz. of orange oil and 1 oz of molasses per gallon of water.
To control nutgrass (nutsedge) use the liquid form at ½ to 1 cup of molasses to one gallon of water and drench into roughly 10-square feet of weedy area. Use the dry molasses at the rate of 5 to 10 pounds for every 100-square feet of area to be treated. Repeat applications are usually needed for the slow die out of nutsedge – but it does work!