Kernza Seedhead

Grain crops make up 50% of farmland and human calories globally and are a critical component to the farming economy in the Upper Midwest. However, the major grain crops of the world are annuals and are associated with a number of negative environmental consequences. Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) is a perennial, cool-season forage grass that has been bred for large seed size and yield so that it can be used as a grain crop called Kernza®. The large root system of intermediate wheatgrass supports its perennial growth habit while providing improved ecosystem services compared to annuals.

Click on the links below to learn more about past and current Kernza research projects.

Establishment - Seeding date and depth
Fertility - Optimum nitrogen fertilizer rates
Dual-use potential - Grazing and forage harvest
Maintaining long-term grain yields
  • Strip tillage, mowing, and prescribed fire to maintain Kernza yields as stands age
  • Effects of intermediate wheatgrass on soil health properties while transitioning to organic production
  • Effects of termination method of intermediate wheatgrass on soil health and greenhouse gas emissions
Improving drinking water quality
Intermediate wheatgrass growth and development


PBS Newshour Video on Kernza