When I was going around the corn areas in Southern Mindanao, I was again amazed at how our corn growers value time. They make sure that their fields have something planted on it as soon as harvesting is over for the previous crop. One field I saw the day before had some, people still picking the ears and the dried stalks were still standing. When I went back the following morning, I was surprised to see more than 10 people planting corn seeds on that same field which was probably plowed early in the day. This is remarkable for an agronomist who for many years, have been working with growers that practice crop rotation and appreciate the value of resting the soil for some time before replanting another crop. But of course, the growing environment of Mindanao is very different from that of Central Luzon and this difference dictates the kind of farming system our growers need to adopt.
Several months ago, I wrote an article about the best management practices for corn-after-corn production. A part of it was about the benefit of crop rotation in relation to stress. In relation to this, there is a so-called rotation effect which is an unexplained benefit of crop rotation that results in better yields in comparison with continuous cropping, even if the limiting factors are addresses. In a low-yielding environment, yield reductions become even greater for corn-after-corn versus rotated corn. I enumerated several possible explanations for the rotation effect but it was clear that this concept gave Central Luzon and Ilocos growers an edge over the others in the country. No wonder, they have the best quality grains and highest yields on a per hectare basis.
WHAT IS CROP ROTATION?
This is a broad topic but to simply put it, crop rotation is the practice of growing different plants in succession. The basic rule is that a crop should never follow itself. Crop rotation is a farming system practiced even in ancient times and is often determined by a-region’s topography, climate types, culture, market trends and demand, among others.