Brown planthopper (BPH) and Bacterial Leaf Blight (BLB) caused by Nilaparvatalugens (Stål), and Xanthomonasoryzaepvoryzae are two of the toughest pests and bacterial diseases that attack rice farms in the Philippines. BPH is a re-emerging pest species prevalent in areas of high cropping intensity. High population of planthoppers cause leaves to turn from yellow to brown, also called “hopper burn.” BLB, on the other hand, is a perennial problem that causes wilting of seedlings and yellowing and drying of leaves.

In the face of climate change and a rapidly increasing population, the pattern of occurrences in the field varies, which challenges farmers to face old problems with new and innovative solutions. In 2017, Eastern Samar, Nueva Ecija, and Zamboanga Sibugay made headlines because of BPH infestation that resulted to approximately R17M worth of damages. A report from DA RFO VIII cited 4,000 hectares of rice crops heavily affected by BLB and BPH in the provinces of Northern and Eastern Samar in March 2017.

Bayer’s hybrid rice brand, Arize has introduced several BLB tolerant hybrids since 2013. Among these brands are Arize-Bigante Plus, Arize-Habilis Plus, and Arize-AZ 7888. In 2018, Arize-AZ 8433 DT (Dual Trait) BLB and BPH Tolerant variety was launched, making it the first Dual Trait hybrid in the market.

Lesions caused by bacterial blight.

“At Bayer, we are shaping the future of agriculture through our innovative products and breakthrough solutions to help farmers increase their yield and productivity. We are working closely with our stakeholders and partners so that our Filipino farmers will have the knowledge and access to this technology,” said Iiinas Ivan Lao, Country Commercial Lead, Bayer Crop Science.

Observation trials conducted in 2017-2018 in the areas of Titay, Zamboanga and Gapan, Nueva Ecija showed significant delay in infestation on the first 100 days vs. susceptible varieties, allowing farmers to have adequate lead-time to control the harmful BPH and avoid heavy losses brought about by hopper burn.

During the launch, farmers are encouraged to be “Brown Patrols” and are given lectures on how to inspect and spot the BPH at the bottom of the rice plant during its onset. The right technology, coupled with diligent field monitoring is key in overcoming the damaging effects of BPH.

Since its launch in October 2018, rice farmers who have adopted this innovation have become living examples of Arize AZ 8433 DT’s efficacy. Bayer technicians also conduct regular field visits to provide continuous technical support for Arize AZ 8433 DT users.“I used another hybrid variety during the previous season and it was attacked by BPH. When I Iearned about Arize-AZ 8433 DT, I attended the launch and purchased seeds good for 2 hectares. I am very satisfied with the performance of this hybrid. My harvest is 11.2 mt/ha. I will definitely invest on this product next season,” says Joel Salazar, a farmer from Santo Tomas Nueva Ecija.

Rice stands at right show the BPH damaged-crop, while at left are the healthy Arize 8433 DT rice crop stand.

“I have observed my Arize AZ 8433 DT is resilient to pest and disease attacks like BPH and BLB. I am quite impressed with the crop stand – it has noticeably more productive tillers, which means I can expect higher yield. True enough, my harvest reached 8.4 mt/ha,” attested Carlito Aquino from Nagcarlan, Nueva Ecija.

“This is really what we are waiting for, to have a variety that can combat BPH. The threat of BPH can happen anytime. I was given sample seeds good for 1.4 hectares last 2018. My harvest reached 8.4 mt per hectare. While I did not experience BPH attack during the said season, I gained peace of mind knowing my crop is protected, plus I have excellent yield,” concludes Rodel Parcon from Pototan, Iloilo.

Arize AZ 8433 DT offers an average yield of 7.2 to 11.9 MT/ha. Its maturity is at 114-120 DAS, with milling recovery of 63%, head rice recovery of 56% (G1), and amylose content at 23%. In 2017, it ranked 2nd Place in yield at the 5th National Rice Technology Forum (NRTF) in Basey, Samar. NRTF is a semi-annual rice forum featuring field demos of different hybrid rice varieties from the private and public sector. It is organized by the Department of Agriculture and the Rice Board.

This appeared without a byline in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2019 issue.