A private agricultural researcher is urging more farmers to plant the improved inbred or open-pollinated rice varieties (OPVs), especially those who cannot afford the high cost of hybrid seeds.
Alfonso G. Puyat, who has been doing a lot of research on plant growth accelerators and other aspects of agricultural production, says that the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) has already developed a number of open-pollinated varieties that are high-yielding and have been certified for commercial planting by National Seed Industry Council (NSIC).
These include RC 222 which is adapted for planting all over the country both in the wet and dry seasons. It has a certified yield of 6.8 tons per hectare during the wet season and 5.8 tons per hectare during the dry season.That’s 116 to 136 cavans of 50 kilos each per hectare. It has consistently good performance under transplanted or direct wet-seeded crop.
The yield is comparable to the yield of hybrid rice varieties. One saleable hybrid variety is SL-8 with certified yield of 5.9 tons per hectare during the dry season and 5.8 tons during the wet season. Another is Bigante with certified yield of 5.6 tons per hectare for both wet and dry seasons.
Aside from being a high-yielder, RC 222 is also prized for its good eating quality, good milling and head rice recovery. It claimed to be resistant to pests and diseases.
Two other OPVs developed by PhilRice and certified by NSIC are RC 216 and RC 236. Both can yield also more than 100 cavans per hectare, and RC 216 is said to have excellent eating quality.
Puyat notes, however, that NSIC 222 is the most reliable of the OPVs. It is also the favorite of seed growers. In 2015, there were 1,728 seed producers of certified OPVs whose production was able to plant 14,821 hectares. On the other hand, producers of hybrid seeds number only eight companies whose local seed production was 94,000 18-kg bags enough to plant 95,000 hectares. Hybrid seeds had to be imported to meet the demand by the farmers.
The farmers with limited funds can better afford the OPV seeds because one kilo costs only about P30 whereas the hybrid seed costs P300 per kilo. Puyat notes that OPV seeds are much easier to produce because one hectare can yield an average of five tons per hectare. On the other hand, hybrid seed producers can only make an average of one ton per hectare. It is much more expensive and difficult to produce hybrid seeds, hence the high cost that the farmers have to pay.
One advantage of the OPV is that the farmer does not have to buy his seeds for subsequent plantings because he can set aside his requirement from his own harvest.
Puyat estimates that the Philippines can achieve rice sufficiency if all the rice areas can produce at least 100 cavans of palay per hectare. And this goal can be achieved at a lesser cost to farmers if they plant the OPVs.
ANOTHER OPV – In the meantime, we came across another OPV that also yields high, albeit not certified by the NSIC. This is the RJC 75 which matures in just 75 days after transplanting 25-day-old seedlings.
This is the story. In 2012, Ricarte J. Corpuz of Laoag City was given three kilos of rice seed of a variety that was discarded by PhilRice breeders. It was produced by PhilRice but it was not one that they would recommend for commercial planting.
Anyway, Corpuz got it and planted it in his farm. To his great satisfaction, the three kilos yielded 28 cavans of 50 kilos each. That is 1.4 tons. He subsequently planted it twice a year in his farm and all the more he was convinced that the rice discard is a big winner. From one hectare during his last planting, he got 245 cavans per hectare, equivalent to 12.25 tons. That’s as high as the yield of Bigante, a hybrid rice that he planted in his other one-hectare property.
What’s more, the plants are very sturdy. When a strong typhoon hit Laoag, the plants were toppled but on the third day, they were up again. On top of that, the eating quality is very good. It is smooth and soft. And since it is an open pollinated cultivar, the farmer can save his planting material from his own harvest.
Corpuz named his OPV rice as RJC 75 which stands for Ricarte J. Corpuz rice that matures in 75 days after transplanting 25-day-old seedlings. Since it is early maturing, it has a shorter exposure to bad weather compared to other varieties. Corpuz, 68, was a Gawad Saka awardee in 2012 with a cash prize of P150,000.