Kicking Clods with Rick Freston - Teff Grass

As I was walking around my pasture looking for warm season weeds to destroy, I reminded myself that all of this summer heat can be put to good use growing productive annual warm season grasses. If we quickly examine our warm season options, it doesn’t take long for teff grass to come into the conversation. Let’s see why teff might be the warm season annual you are looking for. Let’s look at some of the benefits of planting teff.


Teff grows rapidly when temperatures are hot, the hotter the better. Teff grass was originated from lines that were propagated in Ethiopia.


Teff has a very green aesthetically pleasing appearance. It makes a real pretty bale of hay and depending on your market, looks can make a big money difference.


If managed properly, teff can be a super high yielder. This grass establishes rapidly. If the weather stays hot and you keep it watered, adding a little nitrogen fertilizer helps, you can expect to make 6-8 ton/acre drymatter equivilant.


Teff grass is a small bladed grass that dries out very well in big heavy windrows. This allows haying without the worry of slugs or wet spots in the bales. I have seen 3 ft. high windrows that dried down to 8-10% moisture in three days.


The final reason you might want to look at teff is that the horse market loves it. There never seems to be enough to go around. I get phone calls all the time from people looking to buy teff hay.


Now that I have mentioned a few of the reasons that teff might be for you, let’s review how to successfully grow teff and also review some of the DO NOTS.


1. Teff is an extremely small seed and consequently the seeding rate is quite low. (8-10#/acre) The seed needs a firm bed with good seed-to-soil contact. Also be careful not to seed too deep; a quarter below the soil surface is ideal.


2. Recovery after cutting is quite rapid, but leaving 3-4 inches of grass above the ground is still recommended to minimize days to next cutting.


Now let’s look at some of the reasons that teff grass might NOT BE a good choice for your program. First and foremost, teff needs hot weather not just warm weather. If your summer highs are in the 80s, you wont be able to get the high yields that you are expecting. Teff likes 100 degree days and 80 degree nights.


If you live in an area where you get late spring or early fall frosts, teff is not for you!! Frost will kill teff. So if you live in this type of climate, proceed with caution.


Lastly, be aware that although teff is quite drought tolerant, it will not make commercially acceptable yields without plenty of water. In the west do not attempt growing teff without irrigation.


As I’m sure you have gathered from this blog, if you have hot weather and ample irrigation teff is easy enough to grow. Good luck and good growing from the Clod Kicker.


To learn more about teff grass visit