The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) urged farmers to be wary of rice diseases, such as bacterial leaf blight (BLB) and rice tungro, which are prevalent during the rainy season.
“Rice diseases are more prevalent during the rainy season, as weather conditions are more conducive to disease development and severity,” the PhilRice said in a statement.
Dr. Jennifer T. Niones from the Crop Protection Division of PhilRice said farmers should watch out for BLB and fungal diseases, such as rice blast, sheath blight and rice tungro, during the wet cropping season.
To prevent the spread of such diseases, Niones said it is “crucial” to choose varieties that are high-yielding and adaptable to the local environment.
“Farmers must select varieties resistant to the diseases that previously attacked their farm,” Niones said.
PhilRice said there are currently many modern varieties that are resistant to pest and diseases. Among them is PSB Rc10, which is resistant to rice blast, Rc242 for BLB and Rc216 for green leafhopper.
Niones also said farmers must practice proper cultural-management strategies in the field.
She said farmers should ensure that lands are well-prepared before planting, as pathogens and other bacterial cells can thrive on rice stubbles and straws.
Niones recommended the use of the modified “dapog” method to fast-track the preparation of seeds and minimize transplanting shock.
“Farmers should also keep nursery beds and main fields from flooding and reduce plant injury during transplanting,” she said, adding that farmers must also practice regular weeding.
Niones also urged farmers to avoid the excessive use of nitrogen and synthetic chemicals in case of pest and disease infestation.
“It is a waste of resources. Farmers should focus on preventing the onset of the disease, not by spraying but by applying aforementioned cultural-management practices. The use of chemicals to control bacterial leaf blight is not economical and effective,” Niones said.
The expert added that early detection remains to be the “best way” to prevent the spread of rice diseases.
PhilRice said researchers from its Crop Protection Division are currently screening breeding lines that are resistant to rice diseases. The researchers are looking at traditional varieties, as they are reported to have high resistance to rice blast.
“We hope to find novel genes against rice blast among those traditional varieties, so we can incorporate them in our modern varieties. The beauty of this is that we are working on our own materials,” Niones said.
According to PhilRice, experts are also exploring the use of beneficial microorganisms as potential biocontrol agents against BLB and blast.
Image credits: Laila Austria