Lack of germination or low germination due to seed dormancy prevents successful crop establishment in several important plants. To determine the presence of innate seed dormancy and effects of stress-related plant hormones on germination performance of Teff (Eragrostis tef) seeds, we primed seeds in 1% KNO3 for 24 hours in dark conditions at 21 +/- 0.5 degrees C along with varying concentrations of chemicals known to influence seed germination, including: acetyl salicylic acid (ASA); methyl jasmonate (JA-Me); giberellic acid (GA(3)); and indole acetic acid (IAA). Primed seeds were incubated either in constant light (210 mu M/m(2)/s) or in darkness at 21 +/- 0.5 degrees C. The results indicated that priming significantly improved final germination percentage (FGP) in both light (92.5%) and dark (89.4%) conditions compared with untreated seeds. The inclusion of plant hormones in the priming media generally had limited effects, except for 10 mu M ASA (94.5%) and 100 mu M GA(3) (92.5%). ASA generally provided faster seed germination than seeds primed in 1% KNO3 only, while the other plant hormones had no effect on the time required for 50% of FGP in the dark. Priming had no significant effect on time span of germination in either light or dark incubation conditions. The results demonstrate that E. tef has light-inducible seed germination and about half of freshly harvested seeds can be dormant, which can be eliminated to some extent by priming seeds in 1% KNO3.