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Practices for Proper Rice Crop Establishment

A rice crop that has not been established properly is like a house that has been rushingly built. Both have weak foundation and will just result in losses.

Farmers can strengthen the foundation of rice crops by practicing synchronous planting and maintaining the recommended seedling density.

In synchronous planting, all farmers in a community plant rice at the same time after a fallow period of at least 30 days after harvest. It is done within 14 days before and 14 days after the majority of the irrigation service area has been planted.

“Practicing synchronous planting after a fallow period is a good start in rice production for it [prevents] the overlapping of populations of insects and diseases,” says PhilRice training specialist Rolando San Gabriel. By doing it, he adds, “the incidence and severity of tungro and bacterial leaf blight during the wet season, as well as [stemborer infestation during the] dry season may be prevented.”

This is what 56-year-old Rolando Galuz of San Miguel, Bulacan has realized when his crop has been infected with tungro. He prepared his land for the third crop right after harvest for he wanted to produce a higher yield in a year, but his crop was infected with tungro.

He has learned that he should have given his ricefield a rest for at least a month to destroy the disease hosts, and that late-planted crops have also have higher tungro incidence. Hence, he, makes it a point to practice synchronous planting to reduce the spread of the disease.

Farmers should also maintain the recommended seedling density. Planting more seeds is not a guarantee that these will all turn out to be healthy seedlings. for the when the seedling density lis high, the spacing between seedlings is too close, and seedlings compete with each other for nutrients and sunlight.

Experts recommend a seedling density of 40 kg of certified seeds of an inbred variety or 20 kg of hybrid seeds for 1 hectare (ha). These should be sown in 400m2 seedbed.

One kilogram of palay is equivalent to approximately 40,000 seeds. Thus, for 40 kg of seeds, there are 1,600,000 seeds. And if two seedlings per hill are transplanted at a distance of 20 cm x 20 cm during the wet season, and 20 cm x 15 cm in the dry season; a hectare would require some 500,000 seedlings.

Even if 50 percent of the seeds did not germinate or got eaten by birds or golden apple snails, the remaining 50 percent, which is equivalent to 800,000 seeds, would still be more than enough to transplant a hectare of ricefield, according to experts.

Primo de Gurman of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija maintains this seedling density. This 73-year-old farmer-cooperator of the submergence-tolerant rice project of PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute was told to plant IR64 Sub I seeds to increase the supply of seeds for the 2008 wet season. He planted 40 kg of IR64 Sub I seeds in 1 ha, and “produced more than enough seeds for farmers in flood-prone areas to use.

Other farmers should also maintain this seedling density as well as practice synchronous planting. For these crop establishment practices, in turn, minimize the possibility of them incurring huge losses.