New Veggies Tried In Farmer’s Field
More than 50 varieties of new vegetables and other high-value crops are currently grown on two hectares in Brgy. Sto. Rosario, Floridablanca, Pampanga to find out how they fare under growing conditions in actual farmers’ fields.
Louie Castro, 34, a commercial photographer who shifted to the production of high-value crops in 2003, is collaborating with the East-West Seed Company in growing the crops. EWSC is a leading producer and distributor of vegetable seeds and other high-value crops in the country.
Ric Reyes, a ranking East-West Seed official, says that they are constantly developing new varieties for release every year. But they have to test them not only under their company’s experimental stations but also in actual farmers’ fields so that they will be able to find out how they fare in the field.
One of the most promising new crops that is expected to be released very soon is a gourd or “upo” that produces virtually double the yield of their highest-yielding variety in the market. This has been christened Himala largely because of its unusual shape. Instead of the usual elongated cylindrical shape, this new variety has a flat fruit. This is exceptionally prolific and will produce its first harvestable fruit in 50 to 55 days from planting.
Upo, by the way, is a profitable crop to grow, according to Louie Castro who has been planting upo and other East-West varieties in the last seven years. The cost of production is very low compared to other vegetables like ampalaya. Harvesting could be done every day or every two days. Although the price is usually P10 to P15 a kilo, the income is significant.
More than a dozen varieties of sweet and hot peppers are being grown in the two-hectare experimental area. The hot peppers come in different sizes. Some have fruits that are short and fat. Others have longer fruits that are either fat or relatively thin. One variety with very dark fruits that are also bigger than the others is seen to be very promising.
Some of the various vegetables under trial are subjected to stress conditions to find out how they fare under unfavorable conditions.
Next week, the sales force, technicians, research workers and executives of East-West Seed Company will be observing the performance of the vegetables and other crops under trial.
By Zac B. Sarian