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Teff . . . love it or hate it?

July 21, 2009

This past weekend I was in south eastern PA and went with a friend to look at a few of her crop fields. The one field was planted in Teff  (Eragrostis tef). Teff is an interesting warm season grass originating from Ethopia. It is utilized as an annual grain crop in Ethopia and is used to make a pancake like bread called Injera. Teff flour is gluten free, which means it can be consumed by those with gluten allergies.

Here in the US it is primarily used as a forage crop, either for hay or pasture. I am still on the fence as to how I feel about teff. There are advantages and disadvantages with it.

Advantages:

  • Teff is a high tonnage yielding crop . . . 4-6 ton/acre in PA
  • Teff is a fast growing crop, once planted you can harvest first cutting in approximately 50 days.
  • With good weather conditions you can get additional cuttings every 14-30 days.
  • Teff makes good quality, quick drying hay. (most warm season grasses take long to dry down)
  • Teff should be planted in June or the beginning of July, which makes it a great double crop with a small grain or as a back up crop if conditions aren’t right for others.

Disadvantages:

  • Teff is hard to establish. It needs to be planted on a firm, well prepared seed bed. Seeding depth is 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch.
  • Teff seed is very small, which makes it hard to no-till establish. It is best to establish with a Brillon seeder or spun on and cultipacked
  • Until the plant has adequate time to establish roots it should not be grazed because hoof traffic can rip out the plants
  • Teff is an annual plant.

teff

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