SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija—The Philippine Rice Research Institute has identified six rice varieties which can withstand up to two weeks of submergence under water during the rainy season and for planting by Filipino farmers amid the threats of La Niña.
Dr. Norvie Manigbas, head of the PhilRice’s plant breeding and biotechnology division, named the submergence-tolerant varieties as PSB Rc14, Rc68, NSIC Rc9, Rc222, PSB Rc18, NSIC Rc194.
Manigbas said PSB Rc14, Rc68, NSIC Rc9 and Rc222 stand 100 centimeters at most and have strong stems that can endure strong winds of between 40 to 60 kilometers per hour.
The PhilRice official said rain-fed areas are prone to flooding and the varieties suited for these 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.
Rc222 yields up to 10 tons per hectare, while Rc18 yields a maximum of 8.1 tons per hectare. Rc194 yields 3.5 t/ha., Rc14 6.1 t/ha., and Rc68 4.4 t/ha.
Manigbas said what is phenomenal is that when submerged during the vegetative stage, these varieties can recover, with farmers getting maximum harvests even under stressful conditions.
He also asked farmers to reduce fertilizer application, adding that while fertilizers are beneficial to plants, they may cause lodging when used in high amounts.
“Fertilizers cannot be maximized, as there is a limited amount of sunlight during the rainy season. 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.
For rainfed crops, he encouraged farmers to practice synchronous planting in their communities as this reduces incidence of pests and diseases in a specific area and minimizes yield loss.
Manigbas explained that in the case of irrigated lowlands, 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 “dapog” (wet bed) method for seed establishment depending on field conditions.
PhilRice also suggests proper drainage to avoid flooding, the use of machines during land preparation, harvesting, threshing, and drying to save time and labor.
“Time is vital during the wet season especially during harvest. As the rain usually comes in the afternoon, we suggest the use of combine harvester to hasten harvesting operations. If it is unavailable, farmers can use reaper and collect the straws for threshing,” he said.
Manigbas emphasized the importance of finishing field operations in the shortest possible time to prevent yield loss.
The PhiliRice official also recommended drying of palay in flatbed dryers and on nylon nets or canvas for easier turnover when the rain comes.
“The general rule is to harvest and thresh the crop within a short period of time and dry the seeds to a desired moisture content [usually 14 percent],” Manigbas noted.