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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tougher hybrid rice up for release

Hybrid rice, the varieties bred by crossing two rice plants with superior qualities, are being improved to survive environment stresses during the wet season, a researcher based in the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) announced in a recent field day conducted at Brgy. Catuguing, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte.

“In the next two to three years, a new generation of hybrid rice will revolutionize the landscape of rice fields with the use of new tools in breeding and adaptability tests conducted across the country,” Dr. Alex T. Rigor, PhilRice’s Hybrid Rice Breeding team lead, said.

Rigor said that the types of hybrid rice being developed have thicker and stronger culm, better root system, moderate resistance to prevailing pests and diseases, and more dense panicles. These traits, according to Rigor, increase the hybrids’ yield potential in the wet season when the varieties are known to be susceptible to pests and diseases.

The program lead of PhilRice’s Developing Technologies to Surpass the Dry Season Irrigated Lowland Rice Plateau also reported that Mestiso 19 and Mestiso 20, hybrid rice varieties released in 2009, had recently registered a yield of 12 t/ha in the farmers’ field in Bohol and 11. 5 t/ha in Davao del Sur, respectively.

Despite the good harvest attained in said provinces, adaptability trials in some areas revealed that inbred varieties could perform equally or better than the hybrid rice.

In Brgy. Catuguing, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte, where lines are being evaluated for their suitability in the locality, NSIC Rc240 (Tubigan 22) with line designation of PR31132, one of this year’s newly released inbred variety, showed outstanding performance during the wet season adaptability trial.

“I think this inbred variety could equal the yield of hybrid rice with its 200 grains. Normal number of grains is usually about 125,” Danilo C. Agabayani, a farmer in Vintar said in Iluko.

Rigor said farmers’ preference over inbred varieties in some localities calls for the need in producing location-specific recommendation for inbred and hybrid varieties.

“Adaptability tests are conducted across the country to bring newly-released rice varieties faster and closer to the farmers and to hasten adoption. Farmers also learn more about their characteristics such as crop stand, yield potential, height, maturity, tillering ability, and resistance to pests and diseases in their locality. Through this approach, wider perspectives on how lines or varieties perform in different locations are gathered,” Rigor explained.

PhilRice researchers conduct the Collaborative study on adaptability of newly released and promising inbred and hybrid rice in 36 sites across the country. To date, there are 44 hybrid varieties released in the Philippines, including 14 hybrids released this year.

DA-PhilRice is a government-owned and –controlled corporation that aims at developing high-yielding, cost-reducing, and environment-friendly technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

For more information, please visit or contact DA-PhilRice at Maligaya, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija with telephone number (044) 456-0285 loc 511/512 or any PhilRice station near you. You may also visit their website at www.philrice.gov.ph or text your questions to 0920-911-1398. Hanah Hazel Mavi M. Biag, Development Communication Division, PHILIPPINE RICE RESEARCH INSTITUTE (PhilRice)

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