Written by the Web Team
Two months before farmers in irrigated areas plant their rice crop for the next planting season, a crop protection expert of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) advised farmers to use clean seeds to avoid weed infestation.
“The use of certified seeds helps lessen the population of weedy rice on infested fields and ensures better harvest by improving rice yields by 10%,” Edwin Martin said.
Weedy rice, which is a species of rice (Oryza) that produces fewer grains per plant than cultivated rice, is a serious threat to direct-seeded rice and a problem weed in parts of the United States, South America, and Asia. Its origin is quite unclear but it is believed to be natural hybrids of cultivated rice and wild rice species.
“Though it looks like cultivated rice, it is a form of weed because it competes with rice and reduces crop yield as its grains mature earlier and shatter readily,” Martin said.
Corazon Arroyo, manager of Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Research Center, said weedy rice was first sighted in the town of Dingle in the late 90s during the conduct of a collaborative project with PhilRice.
Weedy rice could be easily distinguished from rice because it usually grows taller than the latter, has awns, and produces red-colored grains when milled, lowering its overall quality and thus affecting market price.
Arroyo said there are rice fields in Dingle that record as high as 50-80% infestation.
At least eight towns in the province, comprising irrigated and rainfed rice areas, are affected by this weed infestation including Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, and Pototan.
Literature estimates a 50-60% grain yield loss where 35% of a crop is composed of weedy rice plants.
“Thorough land preparation, manual weeding or rouging, and cleaning of farm machineries used in infested fields; and increased farmer awareness are also necessary to effectively combat and prevent weedy rice seeds from being introduced to uncontaminated fields,” Martin added.