Farmers urged to use insect-resistant rice varieties.
Filipino rice farmers could avert incurring millions in losses caused by pests, particularly the brown plant hopper (BPH), by planting insect-resistant varieties, according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice)
PhilRice, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, said the BPH 'wrecked havoc' across 18 provinces last year, resulting in P17.87 million worth of damages to the rice sector.
Citing PhilRice crop-protection expert Genaro Rillon, the Nueva Ecija-based agency said farmers should use high-yielding and BPH-resistant varieties, such as PSB Rc2, 10, NSIC Rc 212, 222, 224, 226, 298, 300 and 30, to avoid
'He added that farmers in the community must also practice synchronous planting with one- to two-month fallow period to break the life cycle of BPH,' PhilRice said in a statement.
Synchronous planting is important as it avoids continuous supply of food for pests, hence, preventing pest reproduction, according to PhilRice rice specialist Fredierick Saludez.
'It also helps minimize the use of harmful pesticides and conserve helpful organisms in the field,' Saludez said.
Saludez warned farmers that the excessive use of nitrogen andmisuse of insecticide attracts and helps the BPH to multiply in rice fields.
'Following the recommendation based on the soil analysis can help farmers determine the ideal amount of nitrogen fertilizer,' he said. 'Moreover, the use of the leaf-color chart can help them determine the right amount and time of nitrogen application.'
The BPH are sucking insects that usually feed on rice plants and are prevalent in Asean countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
'BPH damage includes turning of rice leaves into brown or yellowish, drying or withering of plants and hopper burn. The BPH could also transmit viruses, such as rice rugged or grass stunt virus,' the PhilRice said.
'Their population peaks toward the harvest season, usually during the months of March to April for the dry season and September to October for the wet season.
The BPH thrive in any kind of ecosystem, especially in irrigated areas. They are usually found at the lower part of the crops attacking at any stage of rice growth,' it added.