Learning as he grows

November 23, 2017

Invergordon's James Rovers says he is still learning the craft of growing teff.

The crop is in its infancy but he says it will likely get to knee height.

The crop is in its infancy but he says it will likely get to knee height.

What farmers grow can change from season to season and in terms of Invergordon farmer James Rovers’ attempts to cultivate teff, how it is grown can change rapidly as well.

Mr Rovers and his family are growing nearly 300ha of teff, an African summer crop that can be used for fodder and grain, but the way they are growing it is completely different to when Country News talked to Mr Rovers in March this year.

‘‘Most of what we did last time, we are doing differently,’’ Mr Rovers said.

‘‘A lot has changed in the way we are growing it.

‘‘This year we intended to grow it. It was planned. It was an opportunity (to grow it) last year.’’

One of the changes is the timing of planting; Mr Rovers said at the same time last year they were a week away from planting.

He said hot and humid conditions were key to growing a successful teff crop.

‘‘The conditions have been good for it. The earlier plantings have established well.

‘‘What we have just planted is establishing very well.

‘‘ I come down (to see it) and get excited,’’ he said.

Mr Rovers said there was still a lot to learn about a crop that was often grown from October to April.

‘‘We are still learning a lot. It is important to maintain records and take photos (as it grows).

‘‘We are learning the flexibilities of what we can and can’t do with it. If we have a muck-up now, it will be a big muck-up.’’

Despite the crop not competing financially with other summer crops, Mr Rovers sees the opportunities teff has for his family’s business.

‘‘The key thing about growing teff (for us) ... is it’s a specific fit for our business.

‘‘We’ve got the machinery to do it and ... it fits a new risk profile.’’

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