Tef in Transvaal
In 1886, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England, obtained tef seed from Abyssinia and distributed it to various botanic gardens and other institutions in India and the colonies. In its first issue (1887), Kew's Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information advocated introducing the crop "to certain hill stations in India, to elevated portions of our colonial empire, and indeed to all places where maize and wheat cannot be successfully cultivated."
These efforts stimulated tef trials in various parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia. As a result, many reports on the plant's performance were received.
Perhaps the most effective introduction was to the Transvaal (which was not then under direct British control). Growers there found that "it makes very rapid growth, maturing in seven or eight weeks from the time of sowing, and if cut before the seed develops, a second crop can be obtained from the same stand; it makes an excellent catch-crop for hay, two successive cuttings being obtainable during the summer on unirrigated land. The plants seed heavily, our yield of seed from a small plot has been at the rate of about three-fourths ton per acre [1.875 tons per hectare]; the seedlings are not readily scorched by the intense heat of summer. On account of the soft, thin straw, it dries and cures very quickly."
But despite the good results, tef took off only by a fluke. As is usually the case with new farm crops, it did not sell well when first offered. The story goes that a farmer, having more tef hay than he required, sent the surplus to the Johannesburg market. It sold poorly—none of the buyers knowing the stuff—and it finally went for animal bedding. It is softer than the ordinary bedding (normally cut from sedges and Arundinella eckloni), and a buyer
tion, use of selected seeds, fertilization, sowing and weeding at the optimum time, and disease and pest control, for example. Yields can also be increased by mechanization. Sowing methods require special attention.
There is now an explosion of interest in ornamental grasses in Europe, the United States, and Japan. With its upright, compact habit, its often brilliantly colored leaves (many color combinations are possible), and open feathery panicles, tef is exceptionally