Shortawn foxtail is an invasive grass weed infesting winter wheat and canola production in China. A better understanding of the germination ecology of shortawn foxtail would help to develop better control strategies for this weed. Experiments were conducted under laboratory conditions to evaluate the effects of various abiotic factors, including temperature, light, pH, osmotic stress, salt concentration, and planting depth, on seed germination and seedling emergence of shortawn foxtail. The results showed that the seed germination rate was greater than 90% over a wide range of constant (5 to 25C) and alternating (15/5 to 35/25C) temperatures. Maximum germination occurred at 20C or 25/15C, and no germination occurred at 35C. Light did not appear to have any effect on seed germination. Shortawn foxtail germination was 27% to 99% over a pH range of 4 to 10, and higher germination was obtained at alkaline pH values ranging from 7 to 10. Seed germination was sensitive to osmotic potential and completely inhibited at an osmotic potential of −0.6 MPa, but it was tolerant to salinity: germination even occurred at 200 mM NaCl (5%). Seedling emergence was highest (98%) when seeds were placed on the soil surface but declined with the increasing burial depth. No seedlings emerged when seeds were buried 6-cm deep. Deep tillage could be an effective measure to limit seed germination from increased burial depth. The results of this study will lead to a better understanding of the requirements for shortawn foxtail germination and emergence and will provide information that could contribute to its control.