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Field Notes

2021 Kernza® Call Series Rundown

2021 Kernza® Call series rundown

By Colin Cureton, Commercialization Team, UMN Forever Green Partnership

A recent call series in February of 2021 for Kernza® Perennial grain stakeholders in the Upper Midwest covered a lot of ground in sharing the current state of Kernza® research, commercial activity, and Kernza®’s future direction.

The calls were hosted by the UMN Forever Green Initiative and had widespread participation from across the Kernza® value-chain including Kernza® growers, processors, buyers, advocates, researchers, and more. A synopsis of each call and a link to the recordings are below:

Call 1 (February 2, 2021): State of Kernza®

  • A 2020 Kernza® harvest, grain quality, and planting report in MN and the Upper Midwest
  • UMN Kernza® breeding, agronomy, and environmental quality research update
  • UMN’s 2021 Commercialization Priorities and Kernza® Grower Licensing

LINK TO CALL 1 RECORDING (access code: hm6k6*WS)

Resources shared:

2021 Forever Green Kernza® Commercialization Priorities
2021 Kernza® Grower Vetting and Licensing Priorities
How to Become a Kernza® Grower in 2021

Dr. Prabin Bajgain shares UMN’s breeding progress.


Call 2 (February 9, 2021): Emerging Support for Kernza® growers

  • An introduction to the Forever Green EECO Implementation Program (see dedicated Field Note on for how to enroll!)
  • Technical assistance (TA) for growers including:
  • Local efforts in SE MN: Cannon River Watershed Partnership and Dakota County SWCD

Resources shared:

Forever Green EECO Implementation Program Flier

LINK TO CALL 2 RECORDING (access code: =cLH6A3+)

Perennial Promise Growers Cooperative Interim President and grower-to-grower technical assistance provider Carmen Fernholz presents on Kernza® production practices and emerging marketing strategies.

Call 3 (February 16, 2021): Profiles in Key Market Partners

Following an overall market development update from UMN Forever Green, presentations were shared by key actors involved in Kernza® production, processing, and marketing in the Upper Midwest and across the US, including:

LINK TO CALL 3 (access code: I%5ACHZa)

Wes Olmschenk from Minnesota Native Landscapes shares their experience and capabilities cleaning and processing Kernza® seed.

Call 4 (February 23, 2021): The Future of Kernza

This call considered the long arc of Kernza®’s development, including reflection from longtime Kernza® leaders at The Land Institute, Green Lands Blue Waters, and UMN Forever Green. A new federal grant, the Kernza® CAP, was introduced by Project Director Dr. Jake Jungers and Project Manager Tara Ritter.

Finally, the group charted a course toward developing a multi-stakeholder voice for Kernza® in the market, to policymakers, and consumers, and that will guide Kernza®’s responsible scaling over time. A model called Steward Ownership was introduced that shows promise to allow Kernza® market partners to go about their business, within the context of a set of shared values developed and overseen by that group itself.

LINK TO CALL 4 RECORDING (access code: Y+jtH3*T)

UMN Forever Green’s Colin Cureton describes how a model of Steward Ownership could be used to manage the Kernza® trademark long term.