Assessing the Potential Use of Teff as an Alternative Grain Crop in Virginia

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Virginia Tech


Teff (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.)) is an annual, warm-season cereal crop most notable for its gluten-free, nutrient-packed seed. Experiments were conducted in two regions of Virginia (Blacksburg and Steeles Tavern) in 2010 and 2011 to determine the grain production potential of two teff varieties (brown and white). Additionally, commercially purchased teff flour was evaluated for its suitability in producing a satisfactory baked product. Teff varieties were planted in early June and July at a seeding rate of 6 kg PLS ha??. Nitrogen fertilizer was applied at planting in the form of urea at a rate of 56 kg ha??. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with a two-way factorial treatment structure (variety and planting date) and four replications. Grain yield and nutritive value, straw yield and quality, and plant height were evaluated for each variety and planting date at Steeles Tavern in 2010. Due to failure in crop establishment and difficulties involved in threshing and processing the harvested crop, no data is available in 2010 or 2011 for Kentland or in 2011 for Steeles Tavern. In 2010 at Steeles Tavern, grain yield was significantly higher for the brown variety (367 kg ha??) compared to the white variety (97 kg ha??) for both planting dates. There was no significant difference in straw yield between varieties or planting dates with straw yield averaging 2645 and 2475 kg DM ha?? for brown and white varieties, respectively. Precipitation accumulation at Steeles Tavern was higher in 2010 (greater than 10 cm) during June and July compared to 2011 and the historic average. This may explain why the plots in 2010 were able to successfully establish and out compete weeds. In the lab, four types of baked products were tested to determine the suitability of teff for baked goods. Cakes, cookies, biscuits and bread were tested with varying treatments of teff: control (100% wheat flour) and 10, 20, 30, 40 and 100% teff flour. Each treatment was replicated three times for each product. Generally, bread and cake volumes decreased as the percent of teff increased. Teff flour was best suited for use in cookie and biscuit products compared to cakes and breads since cookies and biscuits require less leavening. Overall, both experiments (field and laboratory) demonstrated the potential of teff as an alternative grain crop in Virginia. However, additional research is needed to overcome problems associated with establishment, harvest, threshing and processing.



teff, protein, gluten