Crabgrass and teff hay

Asked April 23, 2019, 2:40 PM EDT

We would like to drill Red River crabgrass into our existing hay field. But we'd also like to plant a crop of teff. Will the teff choke out the crabgrass if planted at the same time? Maybe should the crabgrass be drilled first so it gets a start, then the teff? Or will teff choke out anything. Hopefully it'll choke out the fescue that I'm so tired of.

Washtenaw County Michigan

6 Responses

The field of fescue will likely be the dominant species in the field if you do nothing with the existing plants.

Teff is a warm-season annual plant that wouldn't be planted until the soils warm up probably around the first of June. Because it's a late emerging grass, the fescue would be in full production and continue to smother the teff.

Crabgrass is another warm-season grass that I do not recommend.

Without knowing what your goals are for the field, it's hard to give a recommendation for a different grass.

Thank you very much for your reply. We don't have tillage equipment - always hired custom work - but there are almost no farmers near us anymore so we're going to drill grass seed into the existing fields. We read a couple intriguing articles about crabgrass. It sounded like what we'd need for our fields. Drought tolerant and very palatable. So I'm concerned about why you don't recommend it.

Thank you for answering my first question. We've decided not to plant the teff this year but do want to plant crabgrass. So far, what we've read about it, sounds great. Reseeds great, drought tolerant, and very palatable. Can you share with me why you don't recommend it?

Polly McNIchol

Hi Polly,

Crabgrass is a warm season grass and doesn't normally have great growth until summer. Since Michigan has great weather for cool season grasses, they outperform the crabgrasses. The crabgrasses need HOT weather to perform and then they die at the first frost, so it's a pretty short growing season. We usually have only a couple weeks of what I call hot weather every year.

Hope this helps.


Interesting. Makes me want to use the type of crabgrass that's in my lawn. It seems to out-perform everything else! Our goals may require magic. We'd like to reduce the tall fescue and infuse some more palatable grasses - all without tilling. We can drill, broadcast, and cultipack, though. Round-ing-up the field would be our last resort.

Just a reminder that tall fescue, especially those with endophyte are tough to eliminate from a well-established field and will probably be part of the mix for some time.