With the onslaught of El Niño now officially over, the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) on Monday alerted rice farmers to prepare for the rainy season by using appropriate varieties and technologies in rice farming.
PhilRice’s Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division head, Dr. Norvie Manigbas, advised farmers to prepare for La Niña weather conditions and plant varieties which stand at most 100 centimeter and with strong stems that can withstand 40-60 kilometer-per-hour wind speed.
La Niña is a weather phenomenon which — in contrast to El Niño, which causes severe droughts—brings intense rains. It often follows El Niño episodes.
“Rainfed areas are also prone to flooding. PhilRice have already identified rice varieties well suited for wetter weather conditions as a result of La Niña,” Manigbas said.
Varieties suited for wetter conditions are PSB Rc18 (Ala), which can withstand 5-7 days of complete submergence; NSIC Rc194 (Submarino 1), which can survive, grow, and develop even after 10-14 days of complete submergence; and PSB Rc68 (Sacobia), a submergence-tolerant and a drought-resistant variety.
Other varieties include PSB Rc14, Rc68, NSIC Rc9, and Rc222.
These varieties have the following maximum yield: 8.1 t/ha (RC18); 3.5 t/ha (Rc194); 4.4 t/ha (Rc68); 6.1 t/ha (Rc14); and 10 t/ha (Rc222). They can also recover when submerged during vegetative stage.
“These are the maximum yields that the farmers could get under stressed conditions,” Manigbas said.
PhilRice also underscored the reduction of fertilizer application level, reminding farmers that while fertilizers are beneficial to plants, in high amounts, they may cause lodging.
“Depending on soil analysis results and recommended nutrient requirement rates, it is better to reduce fertilizer application rates by 20-30 percent in wet season,” Manigbas explained.
Under rainfed conditions, Manigbas encouraged farmers to practice synchronous planting in their communities to reduce incidence of pests and diseases in a specific area, thus minimizing yield loss.
Dry land preparation is also desired so farmers can do direct-seeding when the rain comes. With this technique, the seeds will start to germinate within five days.
Manigbas explained that under irrigated lowland conditions, land preparation should be done at the onset of heavy rains so that fields are well-soaked in water. Levees and dikes should be repaired to avoid water loss.
Farmers can use the wet bed or dapog method for seed establishment depending on field conditions. PhilRice also suggested proper drainage to avoid flooding, and the use of machines during land preparation, harvesting, threshing, and drying to save time and labor.
PhilRice also recommended drying of palay (rice) in flatbed dryers and on nylon nets or canvas for easier turnover when the rain comes.