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Famers` participation in selecting blast-resistant rice varieties planted in the community is the key to manage blast, a study of the Crop Protection Division (CPD) of Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) showed.

The team of Dr. Truong Hoai Xuan, who led the study, Ecological Risk Management of Blast Endemic in Rainfed Lowland Rice, assisted rice farmers of Brgy. San Francisco, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija in establishing a blast nursery where rice growers selected and evaluated blast-resistant rice varieties.

Truong said farmers were encouraged to use and adopt the resistant varieties that they have selected and evaluated as using resistant varieties is still most practical and economical way of managing rice blast.

“We involved farmers for them to appreciate rice science and by involving them, the more they are likely to adopt the rice varieties. In this study, farmers helped us in validating whether blast-resistant varieties did not develop susceptibility throughout the years,” he said.

Farmers have identified eight resistant varieties to leaf and panicle blast among the 39 varieties planted in their community. These varieties include PSB Rc4, Rc10, Rc13, and Rc96, NSIC Rc150, Rc158, Rc160, and Rc182.

The farmers also identified 23 susceptible varieties such as PSB Rc14, Rc18, and Rc82.Truong`s finding also revealed that PSB Rc82, known to be blast-resistant and a popular farmers’ choice for the past 10 years, has become very susceptible to panicle blast.

According to Truong, panicle blast is an infection below the panicle, usually at the neck node, causing “neck rot” or “rotten neck blast.” If neck rot occurs early, the entire panicle may die prematurely, leaving it white and completely destroyed. Later infection causes incomplete grain filling and poor milling quality.

Rice blast, a major constraint in the productivity of rainfed lowland, is caused by Pyricularia oryzae Cavara. Presence of the disease-causing organism’s source, unpredictable weather, and farmers’ unawareness of location-specific resistant varieties could lead to 30 to 85 percent yield loss.

The study, adjudged as best poster during the 42nd Anniversary and Annual Scientific Conference of the Pest Management Council of the Philippines, Inc., was co-authored with Maricel D. Duque, Kristine Joy B. Panaligan, and Leonardo V. Marquez of CPD.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute