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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

Today 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®, please click here to apply to become a Kernza® grain grower today.

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 plant Kernza® seed?

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.

How do I harvest Kernza® grain?

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.

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, but production acres have lower yields, ranging from less than 100 lbs/acre up to 500 lbs/acre. As new varieties are developed and management techniques refined, we expect yields to rise and become more stable.

How do I get Kernza® seed?

Kernza® seed is currently only available to registered Kernza® growers. More information on requirements and the grower application are available here. Once growers are approved, they sign licensing agreements and are provided a list of approved Kernza® seed sources. Growers who would like to hold back seed for planting must request written dispensation here.

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.

Can I grow Kernza® in my garden or small acreage?

The Kernza® seed supply has been a limiting factor in placing acres, so we are currently asking that growers commit twenty or more acres to the crop. In several years, we hope that the seed supply will stabilize and growers of all scales will be able to participate, whether they choose to become licensed growers or just want to grow for personal use.

What are the challenges to scaling production?

Until 2019, seed production had not been undertaken creating a dearth of seed available on the market. With the release of the MN-Clearwater variety, seed has finally been available for purchase. The Land Institute expects TLI-C5 seed to be more readily available after they began scaling up seed production in 2019, too.

Already a Kernza® Grower?

Renew Your Trademark License

Kernza® trademark licenses are renewed automatically after you’ve signed an agreement in 2019 or later. To renew your Trademark License if you signed on before 2019, please contact us to ensure that you have the most recent version of the licensing agreement. If you have filled out a license, please upload it using this link.

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.

Approved Seed Sources and Variety Lists

Kernza® seed is grown by approved seed growers. If you are a grower who would like to save your own seed for planting, please contact us for a letter of dispensation. If you would like to see approved seed sources, please become a registered Kernza® Grower.

Current varieties approved to be planted for Kernza® Grain are:

  • MN-Clearwater
  • TLI-C5

Request Seed

Growers who would like to plant Kernza® seed must become approved Kernza® Growers. Apply here. If you are an approved Kernza® Grower, you can request a list of approved Kernza® seed sources by filling out this form.

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

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