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Growers

Planting a perennial future

Kernza® Perennial Grain is a beta crop in development and is being grown by experimental farmers across the U.S. and internationally. The Land Institute is committed to working with farmers and researchers to scale production responsibility, while ongoing genetic and agronomic improvements are achieved.

How Farmers Are Benefitting

  • Perennials regenerate soil health and sequester carbon
  • Perennials have up to seven times the root mass of annual grain crops
  • Perennials provides wildlife habitat, including nest sites for birds and food for microbes
  • As a perennial, intermediate wheatgrass does not require annual tillage
  • Once established, intermediate wheatgrass requires less fertilizer and little or no herbicide

Interested in Growing Kernza®?

Apply to grow Kernza® Perennial Grain

Kernza® production remains highly experimental and seed quantity is limited. In order to mitigate risk to our grower partners, meet our research objectives, and steward our limited seed supply, we are targeting certain types of growers and acreage amounts in our production scale-up strategy. You can find criteria we use to select the best grower partners here. If you meet a majority of these criteria and are interested in growing Kernza®, apply using the link below.

Apply to be a Kernza® Grower

Why the trademark license?

Kernza® is the registered trademark owned by The Land Institute. Certain varieties of Intermediate wheatgrass that have been bred for grain quality characteristics can be grown as Kernza®. The Land Institute and our partners work with growers, handlers, and makers who sign trademark licensing agreements and use these varieties. These agreements allow us to continue the research to produce the best agronomic, genetic, and supply chain data possible for Kernza® grain. Everyone involved is part of a worldwide experiment in revolutionizing agriculture. The Land Institute collects data and disseminates the most relevant information for stakeholders. The trademark license and its associated royalties make this possible.

Where does Kernza® grow?

We do not know the exact limits yet! We do know that Kernza® needs temperatures between 32 °F and 50 °F (0 °C and 10 °C) for six weeks in order to flower and produce grain. Kernza® has been successfully grown as far north as 60° N latitude (Upsaala, Sweden) and as far south as 39° N (Salina, KS). We believe it can be grown nearer the equator at higher elevations.

How do I grow Kernza®?

Planting:

Intermediate wheatgrass is usually planted in the fall, but planting it in the spring can help to get it established. However, it will not produce grain the first season if planted in the spring. Most growers in the northern hemisphere will plant between August 1st and September 15th. Planting with a seed drill or a seeder and packer at a depth of 0.5 inches has been successful.

Harvesting:

Kernza® grain is harvested in the late summer or early fall after most of the heads are mature and brown. It can be swathed and collected with a pick-up header or direct-harvested with a stripper header or grain header on a combine adjusted for its small size and light seed.

Kernza® Production Guide
Kernza® Planting Guide

Can I use intermediate wheatgrass grown for Kernza® grain as a forage crop?

The grain harvested from intermediate wheatgrass (IWG) that has been bred specifically for grain quality and yield is marketed under the Kernza® name. However, the leaves and stems can also be used as a forage. Crop residue that is removed after grain harvest has had relatively high protein and some growers have used it as a low quality animal feed. Other Kernza® growers have used the intermediate wheatgrass fields for grazing. More information on utilizing Kernza® as a dual use crop can be found here.

What are grain yields for Kernza®?

Kernza® yields vary depending on environmental and management conditions. Research yields can top 1,000 lbs/acre while production acres tend to have lower yields. Average yields in 2021 were a little over 400lbs/acre with experienced growers achieving up to 1200lbs. As new varieties of Kernza® are developed and management techniques refined, we expect yields to rise and become more stable.

What is the price of Kernza® grain?

The market for Kernza® is new and emerging. As such, prices have been volatile, fluctuating with each year’s yield. We encourage growers and buyers to work together on pricing structures that can work for all stakeholders across the supply chain. The Land Institute and our partners hope to produce market data and supply chain analyses in the coming years.

Are any herbicides approved for Kernza® grain production?

In late 2021, the first broadleaf herbicide was approved for use on IWG for grain production (e.g. Kernza): a 2,4-D Amine product from Nufarm, Weedar 64. This Memo provides background information, recommendations for growers, and discusses implications of new weed management tools for Kernza® grain production.

Already a Kernza® Grower?

Production Resources

Download the Production Guide below, which includes the basics of growing Intermediate wheatgrass (IWG) for Kernza® production.

Kernza® Production Guide

The Forever Green Initiative and The Land Institute collaborated to create updated recommendations for planting Kernza®. Click the link below to learn more.

Kernza® Planting Guide

Cleaning and Dehulling Resources

The Agricultural Utilization Research Institute has various resources on cleaning and dehulling

  • This comprehensive report details research on various cleaning, dehulling and separation techniques for Kernza® grain
  • This infographic provides information on the necessary processing steps for cleaning and preparing Kernza® perennial grain for end users

Learn more about Perennial Pantry’s experience processing Kernza® grain in this interview.

Ecosystem Services Payment Programs

Ecosystem Services Payment Programs: An Evaluation of Opportunities for Kernza® Growers

Download the full report

UMN Forever Green EECO Program (Economic and Environmental Clusters of Opportunity)

Click here to learn more about EECO

Review Identity Preserved Program

The Identity Preserved Program was established and is managed by The Land Institute to ensure that Kernza® varieties produce the highest quality seed and grain for the market. The program ensures that growers collect and provide data, integrating them into a world-wide, production-scale research project to inform the research and product goals of The Land Institute and its partners. Download the Identity Preserved Program protocol here.

Are any herbicides approved for Kernza® grain production?

In late 2021, the first broadleaf herbicide was approved for use on IWG for grain production (e.g. Kernza): a 2,4-D Amine product from Nufarm, Weedar 64. This Memo provides background information, recommendations for growers, and discusses implications of new weed management tools for Kernza® grain production.

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Continuous Living Cover & Perennial Grains in NRCS Practices

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Nutrient Deficiency in Intermediate Wheatgrass

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2021 Planting & Harvesting Data

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Memo on E328O: Perennial grain crop conservation rotation

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Survey for Kernza® Growers: Energy Returns of Annual and Perennial Grains

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Approaches to Managing Intermediate Wheatgrass for Dual-Use
Forage and Kernza® Perennial Grain Production

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Kernza® Planting Guide

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Kernza® Production Guide