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Teff troubles


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#1 TooFast4U

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 07:56 AM

Everybody who raised some teff this year...how'd you get along with it?

Our 6-acre experiment with it was extremely disappointing. Rain prevented getting it planted early enough to get 3 cuttings--we only got 2.

Then frequent rains and high humidity/low temp's made both cuttings *very* difficult to dry. I'm certain the 1st cutting was as dry as any other grass hay we made, but the bales are "dusty" with a little bit of mold. The second cutting just wouldn't dry as temps cooled, and since we needed to leave on our two-day vacation (two days--yes, we really live large here) I finally had to put it up as baleage, not small squares for the horse hay market (I knew it was still a bit damp but tried to bale it...moisture tester said it was 45%!!)

By the way, first cutting was tedded 2x, second cutting was much lighter and thinner and tedded 1x.

Anyway, seems to me that teff's problem here in humid Missouri is that you need 95-degree days and low humidity to get it dried.

What are your experiences?

#2 Production Acres

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 08:56 AM

We were delayed planting this spring so decided to try the teff - planted 125 acres - no rain for 3 weeks- crop 2 inches tall, then got good rain - we applied about 50 units nitrogen and two weeks later, it is over 2' tall, headed out and lodged. Cut the hay, field looked horrible as so much of the crop was down when we cut it. we had plenty of trouble getting the hay dry. It behaved much like foxtail. It seems the summer annuals have a better waxy layer on the stem and are more drought tolerant, thus they are also more resistant to drying in a normal time frame. Had more trouble in the areas of the field where the plants lodged as the baler was picking up leaf and stem from live plants. We got the hay in the low 20's - some in the upper teens
Hay came back around 13% protein, but not much color. We plowed under the second cutting as the ground needed the fertilizer and organic matter more than we needed the agravation of drying the hay. Might try it again, but don't know.

#3 TooFast4U

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 12:54 PM

We got 13 inches of rain over a 4-day period right when 1st cutting was ready to cut, which put the hay down badly and delayed that cutting about 10 days. Where the teff was down the worst, it was killed out--either because the lodged plants smothered out regrowth, or due to fungal infections/etc. 2nd cutting was thinner because of that stand loss.

#4 Rodney R

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Posted 13 October 2008 - 08:51 PM

This is the 2nd year we grew it, and the last. It seemed like a good idea - take off rye for straw, chisel and disk, then plant some teff, and have nice grass hay......

Last year, it grew OK, 1st cutting dried pretty slowly, and if you ted it and let it lay out till it gets dry, it'll be white as a ghost. We had to irrigate the 2nd cut to get any cop - we let that growth fully head out, and it dried much faster, and kept it's color better.

This year, the 1st crop did not quite as OK...... We had one field where the foxtails took over, and there was more foxtail then teff. But we did have one field that was nice and green when baled, and dry. We let it get pretty mature (after last years lesson) but it may have been too mature - 2nd cutting seemed to be growing all over the field, and not in rows - it must have had seeds and re-seeded...... We had to irrigate for 2nd cutting again, and where there was no water, there was no teff.

Over all, the yield was dissapointing, the drydown was slow (unless it was mature), and the color isn't the greatest. If you let it get mature and can then get it baled in 3 days, it's green, the 4th day it looks like white paper.....

And then to try and sell the stuff...... Nobody seems to want it? It naturally gets baled after the timothy and orchardgrass, so it has to get stacked partially in front of them (here, anyway), but nobody will buy it till they can't get anything else..... And the stacks..... they come in looking nice, and the next morning...... Picking bales once is OK, the second time is no fun at all...

Rodney

#5 TooFast4U

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 07:56 AM

Yeah, I'm not sure if this was our "first-and-last" year for Teff, or not, but I can't see many situations where there will be an advantage in it for us.

Besides the slow drying and other problems mentioned, compared to anything else we could plant in the same time frame (May/June) it's slow to establish, which means after 1st cutting comes off we're growing the 2nd cutting when moisture is usually in short supply here. Agronomically, not a very good plan!

If teff isn't reliable for producing horse-quality hay, there's no advantage in it for me...I'd rather plant sorghum sudan or something similar if I need a summer annual.

#6 Production Acres

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Posted 14 October 2008 - 12:15 PM

For the commercial hay operation, Teff has some distinct advantages.
1. It can be sown as a summer annual!
2. When it is good, I have had reports of protein levels as high as 19%.
3. When it is good, you can sell it for horse hay or cow hay.
4. When it is bad, you can still sell it for cow hay for almost exactly what you would get for sorgohm sudan. But good sudangrass or ryegrass will almost never fetch what a really good teff will. probably like $100/ton verses $200/ton depending on where you are.
5. Is it any worse to dry than sorgorhm/sudan?

#7 TooFast4U

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 06:08 AM

Everybody's situation is different. Given the problems we had with teff this year (1st cutting wasn't even very good beef cow feed) and the significant risks I encountered in raising it as a commercial hay crop, I'm just saying that it isn't the "miracle crop" it could have been. For me, it appears to be more on a par with other summer annuals in terms of overall cost/benefit (if raising your own beef cow feed is an alternative to commercial hay). Yes, most of them are lower value per ton, but higher tonnage, while offering other benefits like being easy to establish via no-till.

A friend of mine who also experimented with some teff this year was most impressed by it for grazing--quick regrowth even when grazed to the ground by horses, and his horses (young nursing mares as well as some very old mares) maintained condition better than expected.

> 5. Is it any worse to dry than sorgorhm/sudan?

We never try to dry sorghum sudan any more...we always put it up as baleage.

Edited by TooFast4U, 15 October 2008 - 06:11 AM.


#8 Production Acres

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Posted 15 October 2008 - 06:21 AM

We are planting the fields back in A/O. Fuel is too expensive to be plowing the ground up all the time and at least we can get 5-6 years out of a good a/o stand. I really wish we had a good haylage market here, we used to put a lot of haylage up in the 80's for our own cattle. But with the current price of cattle I cannot justify owning any. I would like to get a lot of 1st cutting hay put up in April as baggage, but there just hasn't been any market for it.

#9 majacoby2003

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Posted 16 October 2008 - 11:53 AM

I tried the Teff this year too. The first cutting had more foxtail than Teff but dried good. I think it dried good, mostly because of the foxtail. The second cutting was 90% Teff but did not dry good. The Teff was tedded twice in a 3 day period. I baled the afternoon of the third day. While baling most of it read around 18% and some 25%. I left some of it sit in the bale wagon covered from rain and it ended up going up on moisture when probed.

I no-tilled Orchard grass into one plot and Timothy into the second plot.
I'm not sure if I want to try it again at this time.

#10 slfactivitybarn

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 08:51 AM

We decided to plant the teff this spring. We broadcast the seed and realized within several weeks we had to use our seed drill to reseed the field of 17 acres. With no rain the teff did not grow even with the application of nitrogen before the first cut and after each cut until it rained. The first cut was horrible 6.25 bales to the acre, second cut was9.6 bales to the acre and our third cut was so much better at 32.5 bales to the acre. We noticed after teh first cut that foxtail began to grow in the field. We did not have a problem drying the teff here in Virginia. We spread it thin with the mower and tedded the teff two days after.

We are planning to try the teff again next year, but to keep the color we are investing in a preservative applicator for our baler.

#11 Production Acres

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Posted 17 October 2008 - 01:57 PM

I don't think you will see a marked improvement in the color of your hay based on using preseravtive. We have been using preseravtive for 10+ years and would not think of baling without it; however the best thing it does for your hay quality is forcing you to put a moisture tester in the bale chamber such that you know what your baling. Your feelers just don't work well and if you have employees, their feelers have a lot more to do with the ballgame, and whether or not they can go coon hunting than whether or not the hay is dry. The preservative will take out the trouble spots in a field and will give you an extra hour or two per day of baling. The best way to get good color in your hay - apply enough N! If your plants aren't healthy, they won't look green, and "green is good, brown is bad! :.)

#12 IAhaymakr

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Posted 23 October 2008 - 09:54 PM

I seeded my teff into tilled ground with a brillion seeder in august following wheat straw harvest and manure application. We got what I thought was enough rain to start it right after seeding and it came right up, but was sure slow to grow. Sept was cooler than normal, so we didn't cut till mid Oct and now it won't quit raining. There was one day that it was close at 23% but we didn't bale. Last year we seeded at the same time and were able to cut by Sept 15 and got enough regrowth to graze, Harvested almost 2 ton then. This year IF we get it baled there won't be 1/2 to the acre. It just never took off. Others planted millet this year and were also dissappointed. Just a poor year for late seedings.

#13 seedman

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 03:52 PM

I know this thread is about Teff troubles but I saw a number of successes in 2007 and 2008. I did see problems too (usually too dry to get up...or up and going). The best successes were where teff was planted after a cereal crop. While many areas of the Midwest were cool and moist at planting time, others were hot and dry. Those that got a good stand (sown-not broadcast) generally were able to get a good crop...and got it harvested well too (dry hay). I know that in near Albany, Ohio a producer too two cuttings and was able to graze as well. His hay was excellent quality. In the thumb of Michigan we had good stands, but it was cool and moist...and most guys did not fertilize it. That was not a very successful venture. However in 2007 they had GREAT success on the same farm with Teffgrass. In central Indiana we had producers planting into alfalfa stands just after 1st cutting and they had excellent results. They will plant again in similar circumstances.

Teffgrass is not a "silver bullet" but it can be a useful tool. While not a perfect grass, I am convinced that it is a viable tool.

#14 prairie

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 08:46 PM

Overall, my seed customers have been satisfied with teff.
I am located in NE Nebraska, and sold teff seed over a wide area, ranging from Wyoming in the west, east into Indiana, north into North Dakota, and south into Oklahoma.
2006 just a few widely scattered customers who were all well pleased.
2007 was a roaring success in almost every case. Yield and quality were excellent..
2008 varied greatly. Most irrigated cases ranged from OK to outstanding. Dryland situations ranged from almost total failures to well satisfied.
After three years of observations over a wide area, I would say Teff is proving to be a very viable option.
Seems to work best seeded after small grain hay/silage harvest or graze out.
Interseeding into thin alfalfa has been very erratic, the thinner the alfalfa stand the better. As a general rule, if the alfalfa stand was thin enough to get a good stand of Teff, it shpuld have probably been destoyed .
Grazing has worked fairly well. Pulling of plants was somewhat of an issue in sandier soil types. Harvesting the first cutting as hay and grazing any subsequent cuttings worked well.

Brad Young
NE Nebraska




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