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Friday, September 30, 2011

Appropriate planting distance for malunggay determined

A French author and entomologist named Jean Henri Fabre once said, “If there is one vegetable which is God-given, it is the haricot bean.” In the Philippines, with the continuing prominence of malunggay (moringa oleifera) due to its proven nutritive and medicinal values, most Filipinos will probably have an obvious choice.

Regarded as a miracle plant, malunggay has much commercial potentials, thus the need for a formal system for its commercial production. Incidentally, such a system is wanting in the Philippines.

Acting on this concern, a group of researchers from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) conducted a study to develop a malunggay foliage production technology. The study was conducted at the Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CLIARC) in San Miguel, Tarlac.

Using three planting distances (10 cm x 10 cm; 10 cm x 20 cm; 20 cm x 20 cm) and a common depth (2 cm), the study determined the effect of planting distances on the growth of malunggay for fresh herbage (vegetable) and tea herbage production.

Based on the study, after 60 days of transplanting, malunggay planted at a distance of 20 cm x 20 cm, produced the tallest plant and widest leaves. It also gave the highest income at P124,533/ha and the highest return of investment (ROI) at 40%, followed by the 10 cm x 20 cm planting distance at 11%.

The planting distances did not produce any significant differences though, on the length and number of leaves, stem girth, grown out shoots and the total of fresh herbage that is used for vegetable.

Planting distances, however, proved to have significant effects in terms of herbage tea production. The 10 cm x 10 cm planting distance significantly yielded the highest produce at 3,308 kg over a 1-year period. Despite this yield, it gave a negative return of investment (ROI). The researchers attributed this to higher labor cost and farm inputs compared with other treatments.

The 10 cm x 20 cm planting distance for herbage tea production gave the second highest produce at 3,077 kg, followed by the 20 cm x 20 cm planting distance at 2,937 kg.

This and other information on research and development activities pertaining to the agriculture, forestry and natural resources (AFNR) sectors are featured in the 2009 Highlights.

A yearly publication of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) Highlights presents research and development accomplishments of government institutions towards bringing better opportunities for our people especially in the countryside. Ricardo R. Argana, S&T Media Service

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