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Why rice yields are still very low

May 8, 2010

Agri Plain Talk


May 7, 2010, 2:02pm

While there are reports of fantastic high rice yields obtained by some farmers, most Filipino farmers are still experiencing low yields. Dr. Frisco Malabanan, national coordinator of Ginintuang Masaganang Ani, cites the case of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

He said that most farmers in that town are harvesting only 3.6 to 3.7 tons of palay per hectare. That is very low compared to the possible yield of the varieties that are available. The main reason they are obtaining poor yields is that they are not using the right technology for one reason or another.

Most of the time, they don’t apply enough fertilizer. When the recommended rate is 6 to 8 bags per hectare, they may apply only 3 to 5 bags. Worse, they don’t apply the right fertilizer at the right time. To obtain the potential yield of the variety planted, the recommended fertilizer should be applied at the right time.

Dr. Malabanan emphasizes the application of the right fertilizer formulation in the right amount during the last harrowing. That’s called basal application. The kind and amount should be based on soil test. Normally, however, a basal application of 14-14-14- (complete) is recommended. Urea or ammonium sulfate could also be applied.

During the dry season, 3 to 4 bags of complete are recommended per hectare. It is less during the wet season – 2 bags complete and one bag urea.

At 45 to 50 days after seeding, side-dressing is done. During the dry season, side-dress 2 to 3 bags urea or 4 to 6 bags ammonium sulfate.

When 5 percent of the rice plants are flowering, apply one bag of muriate of potash (0-0-60) per hectare or one bag of 17-0-17. That is for grain filling. When the grains are well-filled, one sack will usually weigh 55 to 56 kilos. If the plants are not fertilized with 0-0-60 or 17-0-17, one sack of the harvested grains will normally weigh 48 to 50 kilos. That’s because the grains are not as well-filled, according to Dr. Malabanan.

To make sure that farmers will be able to implement the proper fertilization schedule, they should have enough capital to purchase the inputs. According to Dr. Malabanan, the amount needed to plant one hectare with certified seeds is P37,000. In the case of farmers who plant hybrid seeds, the capital needed is P42,000 per hectare.

At the Syngenta Rice Expo in Cabanatuan City recently, it was also shown that the use of Armure, a chemical that fights fungal diseases, can increase rice yields by 10 to 15 percent. Another chemical, Cruiser, can also increase yields not only of rice but also corn. The chemical is used to coat the seeds before they are planted. This will protect the plants from insect damage. A bonus is that the chemical also enhances the vigor of the plants. The plants produce longer and more extensive roots that keep them in good stead during drought.

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