Significance of teff (Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) Trotter) as a new fodder crop for Bulgaria

A. Cholakova, Ts. Zhelyazkova, M. Gerdzhikova

Department of Plant Production, Faculty of Agriculture, Trakia University, 6000 Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

(Manuscript received 25 May 2023; accepted for publication 19 November 2023)

Abstract. This review article aims to summarize global studies relating to the distribution, biological characteristics, productivity and cultivation technology for grain and green mass from teff (Eragrostis tef). Teff has the shortest vegetation period among cereals, good adaptability to varied environmental conditions and high drought resistance. In the world, it is gaining popularity as a healthy grain food, especially suitable for people suffering from celiac disease, due to the lack of gluten in the grain and a good source of omega fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Teff is the crop with the shortest vegetation among the cereals – it ripens for 50 to 90 days. It can successfully be sown as a second crop following early cereals. As fodder, it has good nutritional value compared to some basic fodder crops. It is used as food for ruminants and horses, compared to the quality of well-maintained natural grasslands. Straw is preferred more than that of the basic annual cereal crops in ratios as coarse fodder. Its application in industry is also feasible. Resistance against diseases and enemies, as well as the ability to choke weeds, makes it an economically efficient and ecological crop. While studies on teff in Bulgaria are limited, they indicate successful cultivation in the arid conditions of Southern Dobrudzha. This crop, unknown to our producers, could be included in the structure of field crops and take up areas that are not suitable for the traditionally grown cereal plants – wheat, barley, maize. For this purpose, it is necessary to study the impact of the climate at a local level on the development and productivity of teff. It is necessary to pay serious attention when choosing the production technology, in order to use the potential for the production of green mass and grain, and a possible choice for impact is the optimization of the seeding rate and fertilization.