Written by the Web Team
Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija – Crop specialist based at Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in this city urges farmers to intensify rat control in areas where crops are nearing the booting stage.
Leonardo V. Marquez of PhilRice Crop Protection Division (CPD) said farmers should start inspecting breeding grounds of rats as the female long-tailed rodents usually get pregnant in March.
“Rat population starts to increase at booting stage because rats will have something to feed on, which favors breeding,” Marquez said. With enough food and water, a pair of rats and their offspring can produce more than 500 puppies.
According to Marquez, rat control requires proper timing and must be controlled during low populations or before rice enters the reproductive stage to reduce their damage in later stages.
At PhilRice’ Central Experiment Station, researchers and laborers track rats on creeks, irrigation canals, and ducts for about two hours starting at around 7 a.m. With sacks or fish nets, bamboo rods, and pails, PhilRice labor staff usually caught more than 80 rats in 90 ha.
Marquez said that rats usually hide and reproduce in burrows, then go out from their holes when rice plants are in reproductive stage. A tip in controlling rats in burrows, Marquez said, is to fill up the burrows with mixed soil and water so the whole burrow is shut when the mud dries up.
Marquez also recommended for a year-round community-wide rat control, field sanitization, and proper water management to reduce rat populations.
Marquez stressed that community-wide rat control conducted bi-monthly is important as rats are very mobile and difficult to catch. He also said that fields must be free from weeds and dikes must be kept narrow.
“Water depths of irrigation water must also be maintained at 3-5 cm depth to discourage rats from cutting and chewing the tillers,” he said.
PhilRice rat control activities are being led by CPD and are conducted four times a month after crop establishment every season.