Teff is a warm season C4 annual grass that originated in Africa, where it is utilized mainly as a grain crop. An evaluation of the crop in the US has identified it as an excellent forage hay when cut before grain maturity. Tiffany was recently identified as one of the better forage producing lines of Teff. It produces high yields and quality, very similar to Timothy. Teff is a fine stemmed annual grass similar in appearance to bunch grass. It has large crowns and numerous tillers with a shallow massive fibrous root system. Plant height at maturity can range from 3 – 4 feet depending on the environment. Although, there is a lot of selecting and research going on, Byron Seeds is observing this work and trying to find the best suited variety for the Midwest.
Applications of 50-60 lb. of available N at planting is recommended. Teff can be cultivated on a wide range of soils and environments, tolerating both drought and water logged conditions. Broadcast Planting using a Brillion grass seeder and cultipacker combination, or a spinner type grass seeder is optimal. If row planting is used, row-spacing should be very narrow to allow for stronger weed competition.
The advantage of Teff is its ability to produce high quality hay in a relatively short growing season. Teff has an initial slow growth until a good root system has been established. Herbicide programs for Teff would be similar to other annual grasses or cereal grains. Small applications of N following each cut will enhance yields of later cuts. Moderate amounts of Phosphorous and in some cases sulfur maybe required. Excessive fertilization should be avoided to prevent lodging. Harvest before maturity for optimal quality feed. Cutting interval is generally 40-45 days, but may vary. Currently, there are several Teff varieties being sold, with very little difference in them.