By Sheila Mae H. Toreno, DA-RAFIS 6

Farmers shall immediately report any cases of pest and diseases incidents in their areas to curb damage on crops especially rice, said Ryan Rasgo, chief of the Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Western Visayas.

“We are encouraging our farmers to contact their agricultural technicians when the presence of pests are monitored in their areas. We also give pest advisories to every province. Aside from that, farmers shall also monitor weather updates,” he underscored.

As to date, there are about 393.73 hectares of rice areas damaged by rice black bug (RBB) and 23.4 hectares by armyworm regionwide.

A close-up of the rice black bug.

RCPC had validated the reported damages of the said pests in Western Visayas. The highest incident of RBB is in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental with 208.28 hectares affected based on a progress report from November 2018 to January this year.

Meanwhile, three towns in Iloilo province have recorded damages of RBB—Concepcion with 76 hectares; Bingawan-54.75 hectares; and San Dionisio-49.7 hectares. Five hectares of rice farm was also damaged by RBB in Ibajay, Aklan.

On the other hand, armyworm infestation was monitored in the 23.4 hectares of rice farms in Madalag, Banga, Balete, and Altavas in Aklan.

Pests such as RBB and armyworm are hard to control when water is not sufficient in the field. According to Rasgo, farmers’ practice of non-synchronous planting and not sanitized farm area also lead to pest occurrence.

While the use of chemical pesticides is recommended during pest outbreak, the DA is also urging farmers to use other alternative management strategies such as biological control agents and appropriate cultural management practices anchored in the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices especially during regular pest situation.

“We are continuously producing bio-control agent metarrhiziumanisoplae against [rice] black bug. This has been proven effective in controlling RBB. Its effect can be seen in three days to two weeks of application,” he explained.

Samples from the field.

“If the damage can no longer be controlled, farmers shall apply recommended insecticides. They also have to employ other control strategies like proper water and fertilizer management,” Rasgo said.

According to the International Rice Research Institute, RBB removes the sap of the rice plant that results in the browning of leaves, dead heart, whit heads, and bug burn. On the other hand, armyworm feeds on rice by cutting off leaves and young seedlings at the plant’s base.

Rasgo stressed that both pests can lead to 20 to 100 percent yield loss of rice at any crop stage.

He assured farmers that DA-RCPC is constantly coordinating with the local government units to help them avert pest infestation.

“We are providing light traps to farmers’ groups. We are also intensifying our field monitoring and validation activities with the aid of our mobile plant pest clinic. LGUs can send us requests if they want to access the services of our mobile clinic,” he shared.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2019 issue. 

For more information, visit DA Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC) Region 6.