Monday, December 17, 2012

Ampalaya Grown In Jute Sacks

In photo are ampalaya plants (bitter gourd) growing in medium size jute sacks filled with vermicompost as growing medium.

The plants are very fruitful. Note the jute sacks perched on benches on both sides of the trellis.

This is one of attention-getters at the Permaculture Farming showcase at the East-West Seed Company headquarters in  San Rafael, Bulacan.

The plants are organically grown. No chemical pesticides and fertilizers. There's no fruitfly damage on the fruits.

Purple Corn For Good Health

Purple Corn with kernels that are all purple.
The Purple Corn was one of the varieties showcased at the demo farm during the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

The Purple Corn is claimed to be rich in anthocyanin which may help stabilize and protect capillaries and blood vessels from damage by free radicals. 

Anthocyanin has been shown to promote collagen formation (which is good for our skin) and may improve blood circulation.

Aside from the variety with purely purple kernels, there is also what is popularly called Bicolor.The kernels are a combination of purple and yellow, or purple and white.

As boiled corn, the Purple and Bicolor are nice to eat because they are waxy.

Ric Reyes with Bicolor corn.

Friday, December 14, 2012

East-West Founders Persevered and Won

Simon N. Groot at the 30th anniversary
of East-West Seed.
Michelle Robel, E-W plant pathologist,
poses with fruits of Emperor Sweet Pepper
which is now making farmers rich.
Ampalaya is a major interest of East-West plant breeders. They
have developed several hybrids which are big money makers
for a lot of farmers. These include Jade, Galaxy,
Galactica and Bonito.
The great success that the East-West Seed is enjoying today is the result of dogged perseverance and the strong belief that a good and reliable seed could have more lasting impact on our farmers than the billions of aid money from well-meaning donor nations and NGOs.

That could be very true because the impact of a good seed is directly felt not only by the small but also the big-time farmers. Countless farmers are continuing to benefit year after year from not just one seed but a series of improved seeds that the company’s researchers are churning out every year.

While East-West is considered the leading vegetable seed company in the Philippines today, achieving success was far from easy. The early years, starting 1982 when it was established by Simon N. Groot of the Netherlands and Benito M. Domingo of the Philippines, were particularly rough years.

Mr. Groot recalls during talks over lunch at the company’s 30th anniversary that it took them 10 years to reach the first $1-million mark in sales. After their first building was put up, they were already running out of money so that they had to buy second hand furniture for their offices. Up to this day, the P200-second hand table that Mr. Groot used in those difficult years is still kept at the East-West headquarters in San Rafael.

After achieving the $1 million annual sale, however, the sailing had become more smooth. Sister companies have since been established in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, India and China.

Promoting the “pinakbet” type of vegetables was a smart tack that East-West took. That’s because in “pinakbet” many kinds of vegetables are cooked together in one dish. In the authentic Ilocano pinakbet, as many as 15 or even more vegetables, including minor ones, are cooked together.

These include ampalaya fruit and shoot, eggplant, tomato, stringbeans, patani, radish fruits, alokon, paayap, sweet pepper, finger pepper, malunggay fruits, kadios seeds, gabi tuber, patola, okra, katuray flowers and bataw. Cooked with “bagnet” or broiled “dalag”, and just enough tomato sauce and water, the concoction could make a superb one-dish meal.

Mr. Groot said, they thought of promoting the pinakbet type vegetables because at that time, it was the favorite dish of former President Marcos. He has tried to promote the same dish in Indonesia but has not succeeded so far.

The production of superior varieties is just one part of the cycle. What is equally important is the dissemination of the varieties and the production techniques that go with the seeds.

The company has been successful along this line. It has put up demo farms in various places, has conducted workshops and seminars, conducted what it calls road shows and many more.

One project that has become successful is the Tanim Para Sa Kinabukasan project or TSK whereby the technicians of the company collaborate with school officials to put up a vegetable garden showcase right on the school campus. Here, the students participate in putting up the garden, in sowing the seeds, transplanting them and then caring for them up to maturity. At the end of the cycle, a harvest festival is held. Parents of the children and other target groups are also invited to see the  beautiful vegetables taken care of by the students and their mentors alike.

So successful has the TSK program become that the Oh My Gulay project started by Sen. Edgardo Angara has been hitched to the TSK. Now, to cover more schools, the gardening-in-charge in interested educational institutions are sent to the East-West for training.

East-West Seed is not only focused on the production of seed varieties. It is also focused on other means of improving productivity. One example of late is the promotion of grafted ampalaya planting materials. This technique is increasing the productive life of the crop by an additional 10 harvests. Then it is promoting what is called permaculture farming, which we will delve into in another write up.

At the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West last December 12, 30 outstanding vegetable farmers were honored for their exemplary achievements. Some of them have risen from poverty to become multi-millionaires because of the technologies they have adopted from East-West and other sources.
Simon Groot and Irene Sion reminisce the old days at
East-West. Here she is showing Mr. Groot the improvised
seed catalog which she used when selling seeds. Aside from
plant breeding duties, she also sold seeds of the company.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sweet Corn And Pipinito Together

Photo shows Dorie S. Bernabe, president of the Cactus and Succulent Society of the Philippines, holding a fruit of the Pipinito cucumber intercropped with sweet corn at the Permaculture farming showcase at the East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

Planting sweet corn and the mini cucumber together is a practical idea that could be adopted by hobbyists and commercial planters alike. Usually, sweet corn is harvested 65 to 75 days after planting, depending on the variety.

On the other hand, the mini cucumber starts fruiting 35 days after planting. The farmer or gardener, therefore, can start harvesting from his farm or garden in just five weeks from planting.

It is important that the sweet corn is planted one plant per hill and should be spaced about two feet apart. This will let sunlight penetrate between the plants for the good of the two crops.

Dorie Bernabe was one of the visitors at the EAst-West Seed on December 12 when the company observed its 30th anniversary.

Friday, December 7, 2012

AGRICULTURE Magazine Cited

The Manila Bulletin's AGRICULTURE Magazine, edited by your blogger Zac B. Sarian, was cited by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) during the Media Noche affair tendered by the Council on December 6, 2012.

The magazine was given the Certificate of Recognition "for its outstanding contribution to technology, information, and knowledge diffusion through active and enthusiastic accommodation and publication of numerous valuable agricultural articles from the Council. The magazine's responsible disposition has enabled PCAARRD to reach out to its beneficiaries in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources sectors, free from the worries of costly media leverage, thereby helping the Council in empowering our farmers and other agricultural beneficiaries in the countryside."

Dr. Patricio Faylon, PCAARD Executive Director, signed the certificate of recognition at the Media Noche held at the Shangrila Restaurant in Quezon City.

Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the Philippines. It is available in bookstores and the nationwide distribution network of the Manila Bulletin.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

ZAC Invited to East-West Field Day in Thailand

EAST-WEST SEED INTERNATIONAL has invited your blogger, Zac B. Sarian, to cover the company's Field Day on February 4, 2013 at the Simon Groot Research Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The Field Day will showcase the company's new varieties, along with successful varieties from recent years. The Field Day's theme is "Our Ever-Growing World of Vegetables." On display will be over 200 varieties - mostly popular outdoor varieties, but will also include some interesting indoor varieties. More than 25 varieties will be shown to the world for the very first time.

The invitation was signed by Joost Pekelharing, president of East-West Seed Group, and Mary Ann Sayoc, general manager of East-West Seed Philippines.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Preparing For His Retirement

Teodulo Pili with the Duku and Longkong
lanzones that he bought recently from
the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa,
TEODULO PILI, 62, who teaches at the Don Servillano Platon Memorial High School  in Tinambac, Camarines Sur, has been preparing for his retirement.

He is developing a three-hectare farm in his hometown by planting exotic fruit trees. A few years back, he planted latexless jackfruit from the Teresa Orchard & Nursery which has been bearing excellent fruit.

This time, he is adding Duku and Longkong lanzones to his farm. He recently bought his planting materials at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.

People like Teodulo are admirable because they know how to prepare for their retirement. Upon their retirement, they will already have fruiting trees that could give them some income.

If one is enterprising, he can buy superior mother trees which he can eventually propagate for sale to other fruit tree enthusiasts.

Year-Round Strawberry Under Greenhouse

Bethzaida Bustamante showing fruits of Festival.
FRANCIS CHING of Cada, Mankayan, Benguet, produces strawberries under greenhouse year-round.

He plants the Festival variety imported from the United States which is claimed to be highly suitable for planting in higher elevations of at least 1,000 meters above sea level.

Fruits of Festival strawberry are big, juicy and sweet. On top of that, they have better shipping quality than the Sweet Charlie that is usually grown in La Trinidad.

His greenhouses for growing strawberry cover 7,000 square meters. His strawberries are organically grown so that they command a high price, especially during the off-season, which could P300 to P400 per kilo.

Photo shows Bethzaida Bustamante of the Department of Agriculture during a visit to Ching's farm recently.

The General's Prolific Longkong Tree

This prolific 8-year-old longkong tree is one of  150 trees belonging to Gen. Recaredo Sarmiento II, former chief of the Philippine National Police.

He is growing his exotic fruit trees in the family farm resort, Ouans Worth Farm, in Lucena City.

His trees have been  bearing fruits twice a year, something he attributes to his application of a lot of organic manure as well as Alfonso G. Puyat's formulations of growth enhancers (Power Grower Combo and Heavy Weight Harvest). A total of 60 out of the 150 trees are heavy with fruit and will be harvestable in early January this coming year.

Photo shows Gen. Sarmiento's grandchildren enjoying posing with the ripening fruits that were harvested last June. By early September, the trees bore flowers again and these will be harvestable early next year.

The Sarmiento grandchildren and prolific longkong tree.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Organic Romaine Lettuce Under Greenhouse

Maritess Madera shows newly harvested
organic Romaine lettuce from Francis

Ching's Farm in Benguet. (Melpha Abello
MARITESS MADERA of the Department of Agriculture shows newly harvested organic Romaine lettuce produced under greenhouse at the three-hectare farm of Francis Ching in Cada, Mankayan, Benguet, during a recent visit.

Ching harvests five tons of lettuce a week which he sells to high-end markets in Manila through his partners like Dole-Asia, Pureharvest Food Processing and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

By using greenhouses, Ching successfully produces high-value vegetables and strawberries year-round without using chemical pesticides.

Ching was conferred the 2011 Gawad Saka award for high-value commercial crops.

Bright Prospects In Sugar Industry

There are a number of developments that point to a rosy future for the local sugar industry. These were cited by a top executive of a leading company engaged in the sugar industry.
He is Archimedes B. Amarra, vice president of Roxas Holdings, Inc. for marketing, trading, corporate planning and corporate strategy. He also served as a board member of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, and in other capacities in a number of foundations or agencies involved in the sugar industry.
One recent significant development was the ability of the country to diversify the foreign market for Philippine sugar. Another was the effective curtailment of smuggled or unauthorized entry of sugar from outside sources.

Amarra cited that in crop year 2010/11 sugar production reached 2.4 million tons which was a significant increase from the previous year’s production of 1.97 million metric tons. To prevent the undue drop in price for locally produced sugar, the SRA was aggressive enough to look for markets abroad. SRA was able to negotiate with the US for additional purchases. The Philippines originally had an allocation of 138,000 tons for 2011-2012, but the shipment from Sept. 3, 2011 to July 5, 2012 had increased to 163,900 tons.

In addition to the increased shipment to the US, the SRA’s marketing efforts resulted in the shipment of 361,663 tons (D sugar) to Japan, China and Indonesia in the same period.

Amarra said that SRA’s efforts were an effective market diversification move to meet a potentially problematic overflow of production carryover from the previous year.

The Bureau of Customs’ efforts in curbing sugar smuggling also contributed to the stabilized price range for domestic raw sugar (millgate) in the vicinity of P1,300 per Lkg (50-kg sugar) in the first half of crop year 2011/12.  Official data from Thailand reported that the volume of sugar exported to the Philippines was about 126,829 metric tons for the period of November 2010 to October 2011 while the reports from the SRA indicated that the agency allowed the importation of 117,000 metric tons for the same period. This is a very significant reduction from previous estimates of 200,000 to 300,000 tons of illegal or unauthorized entry of sugar each year.

Amarra cites one more indication pointing to the bright prospects of the sugar industry. This is the positive market response to the relisting of Victorias Milling Company at the Philippine Stock Exchange, which means that the sugar industry is getting a serious second look from the business sector. He cites reports in media that the Metro Pacific group of Manuel V. Pangilinan is keen in getting into the sugar business.

Amarra considers as the foremost challenge to the sugar industry the decelerating rate of AFTA tariff on sugar imports from 38% in 2011 to 18 percent in January 2013, down to 10% in January 2014 and then 5% in January 2015.

He is optimistic, however, that the local sugarcane farmers can meet the challenge. He said that since 2010, the industry embarked on the implementation of the master plan for the sugar industry in conjunction with the SRA Road Map. The twin objectives of cost competitiveness and profitability were set. A cost of US 14 cents per pound (or about P750 per LKg was set as the bottom line. At this level, producing sugar in the country should provide sufficient returns to both farm and industrial sectors despite competition from the expected imports come 2015.

The targets, Mr. Amarra says, are an acknowledgment that fluctuating world prices (and therefore import prices) cannot be accurately forcasted nor influenced by the local industry. As of the middle of 2012, nine sugarcane producing areas or districts have reported average costs of production at about or below the mark mentioned above. Many more areas, however, need to shape and are forecasted to catch up with the implementation of more projects to support efforts at the farms and the factories.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Honeybees In Mario Rabang's Farm

Flor Labon, the bee expert with veil, showing
to the visitors the frame being filled with
 honey by the bees. The bees don't only 
produce honey, they also pollinate the 
mangoes. Second from right is Mario Rabang.
That's me, Zac B. Sarian,showing a
frame filled with honey. Flor Labon
later demonstrated how to extract
the honey with an extractor.
The filled frames are being readied for extraction.
At left is Mario Rabang while at right is Tony Rola.
Mario Rabang, a Manila businessman and his better half, Dr. Perla Rabang, have included bee culture in their farm in the rolling hills of Abucay, Bataan.

The farm which covers more than 30 hectares is in the process of development although there are already mango trees of fruiting age, guyabano, papayas, cacao, pummelo and many other crops. Mushroom culture is also being included as a special project of Dr. Rabang, a practicing dentist in Manila.

The farm was the venue of the monthly meeting last December 2 of the members of the Aani Mango Industry Network (AMIN) Foundation headed by Tony S. Rola. Aside from the talk on mango technologies, a honeybee expert from Baguio, Florida Labon, was invited to demonstrate how to take care of the bees as well as how to extract the honey from the honeycomb. 

Pol Rubia, on the other hand, conducted a demonstration on mushroom culture.

The Rabangs prepared an overflow of food that included two native lechon, seafoods like crabs, shrimps, seabass, tilapia and other goodies.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Non-chemical Spray Against Whitefly

NESTOR ACOSTA, an outstanding diversified farmer from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, has an unusual way of controlling whitefly in tomatoes and other crops using a non-chemical spray.

The spray is the extract from the partially digested feed found in the abomasum of ruminants such as cattle, carabao, goats, sheep and others. He collects from a slaughterhouse in his hometown the partially digested feed in the abomasum of the slaughtered animals. He gets one pail of the material (called "papaitan" in Ilocano) and an equal amount of water is added. He then extracts the liquid and uses that for spraying against the whiteflies.

Acosta swears that the spray is very effective. Whitefly is a pesky pest of tomatoes, eggplant and even ornamentals such as poinsettias. 

The abomasum, by the way, is the fourth compartment of the animal's stomach where the feed is partially digested before it proceeds  to the small intestines where it is further digested and absorbed in the blood.

Onion Is Also Profitable in Pampanga

PAMPANGA is not a traditional onion growing province. But it can be profitable to grow in the province as proven by limited plantings earlier in 2011-2012. 

Fidel David, chairman and founder of Bangon San Matias Multi-Purpose Cooperative in Sta. Rita town, said that a 60-square meter patch planted to Red Pinoy variety yielded 200 kilos that was sold at P35 per kilo or P7,000 for the whole harvest.

A member of the co-op, the owner of Kitch Farm in Bacolor, planted Red Pinoy on one hectare. The farm was drip-irrigated so the yield was high. Gross sales from that one hectare, according to David, was P1.5 million.

Red Pinoy is the best-selling variety of East-West Seed Company. It is a red creole type that is claimed to be tolerant to common onion diseases. The bulbs also have excellent keeping quality.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Indon & Thai Visit Teresa

EDGARDO LADORES (right in photo) and his Indonesian and Thai visitors visited the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal on Nov. 24 looking for fruit trees and unusual plants.

One ot the plants that caught their fancy was the African banana, Kasirakwe, which has dark pseudostem or trunk. This variety produces fruits that look somewhat like the fruits of the latundan.

The Thai visitor, Daeng, is at left while in the middle is Chandra, the Indonesian. They were also interested in the latexless jackfruit, Key lime, giant atis and Super avocado which bears fruits that weigh as much as one kilo each.

Myrna Paredes Goes For Longkong

Ripening Longkong fruits.
MYRNA PAREDES goes for Longkong.
Myrna Paredes owns a big mango plantation in Medina, Misamis Oriental. When we met her at the  National Mango Congress in Mandaue City, Cebu, she sounded rather frustrated with her mango trees because they require so much work. They have to be sprayed with chemicals to coax them to bear flowers. And there are lots of destructive pests and diseases that require the spraying with very expensive insecticides and fungicides.

That is why she is going to plant Longkong lanzones instead of mango. She was so excited telling us about her 16 Longkong trees that produced a lot of fruits earlier this year which she sold at P92 per kilo. She was able to get P14,720 from her harvest. This means that each tree gave her P920 and she did practically nothing except to apply some fertilizers. She did not spray any flower inducer. Neither did she spray anything against pests and diseases.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why We Should Eat Brown Rice

So much of the nutrients in rice is lost if it is well polished as is usually done in the Philippines. That is why we should eat unpolished or brown rice, it was stressed by Dr.Antonio Alfonso of the Philippine Rice Institute.

Dr. Alfonso was one of three speakers at a forum on new approaches to health in the Philippines, November 28, 2012, at the Gateway in Cubao, Quezon City,

Brown rice, he explained, is unpolished whole kernel that is produced by removing the husk of the palay, leaving the bran layer intact. Also called "Pinawa," it is a whole grain food containing bran, germ and endosperm.

Polishing to obtain milled rice, according to Dr. Alfonso, removes 15% of protein, 85% of fat, 80% of thiamine, 75% of phosphorus, and 60% of other minerals.

He adds that eating brown rice may help prevent the onset or reduce the incidence of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, heart disease and stroke.

Dr. Alfonso, by the way, is the Chief Science Research Specialist, Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Division of PhilRice. He can be reached at

December 2012 Agriculture Magazine

The December  Agriculture cover
featuring Maricon Arcega.
THE DECEMBER 2012 issue of Agriculture Magazine features 30 Farmer Heroes who will be honored on December 12 during the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

Four out of the 30 Farmer Heroes are women, including Maricon Arcega of Lubao, Pampanga, shown on the cover page with her bountiful harvest of Ambassador cucumber, a variety developed by East-West plant breeders.

Aside from the story on the Farmer Heroes, there are a lot of interesting features that provide valuable farming tips, ideas and insights.

Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated magazine of its kind in the Philippines. It is distributed nationwide through bookstores and the nationwide outlets of the Manila Bulletin and through subscriptions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Vicky Motril in her
 squash plantation.
Lady farmers can be at par with, if not better than, many of their male counterparts. One very good example is Victoria A. Motril, 61, of sitio Pag-asa, Cr. Rubber in Tupi, South Cotabato. She is one of the outstanding farmers who will be honored by East-West Seed Company as "Farmer Hero" on December 12, 2012 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the company.

Vicky, who finished an elementary education course, is a widow. She and her late husband were overseas workers (OFWs), first working in Jedda and then in Athens, Greece.

When the couple returned to Cotabato in 1990, they decided not to go abroad anymore. With their savings, they bought six hectares for their farming project, later increased to 8 hectares. Because her husband passed away not long after, she had to do the farming herself. And what a model farmer she has become.

With the guidance of the East-West technicians, she was able to master the ins and outs of the vegetable business. She has been planting the improved varieties developed by the East-West plant breeders. The latest that she planted this season is the Engrande squash which is supposed to be an improvement of Suprema, the long-reigning squash variety of the company.

She has not only mastered production techniques like the use of improved seeds, plastic mulch, trellising, proper irrigation and pest and disease prevention or control. She has also been creative in marketing her own produce as well as those of others with whom she has formed an association.

They have become concessionaires in five supermarkets in Cotabato where the members bring their produce for sale. Thus, they are assured of the right price for their harvests.

Vicky devotes six hectares to vegetables. She is an advocate of organic farming so she produces her own organic fertilizer through vermiculture.

To minimize damage by pests and diseases, she practices crop rotation.  Vicky plants eggplant, ampalaya, squash, tomato, different varieties of peppers, carrots and several others.

Nothing is wasted in her farm. She classifies her harvests. The Class A are sold to supermarkets and malls. Those that are deformed or have some other defects are processed into vegetable pickles, candies and powder products. She has the training for these because she majored in home economics at the Silliman University. The processed products are also saleable in the market.

Squash is one vegetable fruit that she makes into powder when the price is low. She said that when squash is in short supply, one kilo could fetch P15 to P20. But the price can tumble down to P2 per kilo. That’s when she makes her squash fruit into powder, which she sells to bakeries to enhance the eating quality and nutrient content of their pan de sal. She sells her powdered squash at P400 per kilo. Ten kilos of fresh fruits, she says, make one kilo of powder.

Vicky says there is practically no waste in her farming. The peels and vegetable trimmings are fed to her earthworms for the production of vermicompost.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

P2,000 Profit Per 29-Year-Old Mango Tree

PETE DURANO is the owner of 2,000 29-year-old mango trees in Samal Island in Mindanao. In an interview at the 14th National Mango Congress in Mandaue City, Cebu, he said that earlier this year he induced to flower and bear fruit 250 of his mango trees.

The weather was not so cooperative because at 25 to 40 days after induction (DAI), there was continuous rain. That's the reason why he had spent so much for fungicide to protect the flowers and fruits. The total cost of production was a cool P1 million.

Nevertheless, he was able to harvest more than 83 tons which he sold for P1.5 million or an average of P18 per kilo. Therefore, he netted P500,000. Had the weather been more cooperative, that profit would have been much bigger.

Grafted Super Avocado Now Available

These are the grafted Super Avocado which
are now available at the Teresa Orchard &
 Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Tel. 0917-841-5477
or Rose at 0915-434-4216
Opened frujt of Super Avocado. The flesh is
fine-textured, fiberless and with mealy consistency.
The Super Avocado weighs as much
as a kilo.
GRAFTED Seedlings of the Super Avocado are now available in limited number at the Teresa Orchard and Nursery in Teresa, Rizal. Tel. 0917-841-5477 or Rose at 0915-434-4216.

This produces fruits that weigh as much as one kilo and its flesh is fine-textured, fiberless and with a mealy consistency.

Avocado is not only for eating. Oil is extracted from the fruit is used for making beauty and wellness products. Avocado oil is exported to Europe, especially in Germany, where it commands a high price.

Those who have earlier reserved may now visit Teresa Orchard & Nursery to pick up their grafted plants before supply runs out.

ERNESTO PASCUAL: Farmer Hero From Asingan

ERNESTO PASCUAL and his Red Hot pepper.
ERNESTO PASCUAL, 55, is one of the "Farmer Heroes" of East-West Seed Company who will be honored on December 12, 2012 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the company in San Rafael, Bulacan.

An agriculturist who has been connected with the Department of Agriculture up to this time, he has been pursuing his own vegetable planting with the assistance of his wife Gregoria.

He grows different vegetable varieties but one money maker these days is Bonito ampalaya (we interviewed him last Nov. 15, 2012 while attending the National Mango Congress). His half hectare Bonito is giving him at least 100 kilos every other day which he sells for P2,500.

One big money maker earlier was Galactica ampalaya which he planted on a half hectare. Planted in early July, he started harvesting on August 25. At first he just harvested 20 kilos but it soon increased to 250 kilos every four days.  He got his highest yields in October during which he harvested 350 to 400 kilos every four days and which he sold at P35 to P45 per kilo. At 400 kilos times P45, that's P18,000 in one picking.

Pascual's other money makers are patola, upo and Red Hot pepper. Photo shows him with his very fruitful Red Hot pepper.

Power Grower Combo Doubles Sugarcane Yield

Mauro and Melanie Merculio
and their sugarcane sprayed
with Alfonso Puyat's Power
Grower Combo and Silikon
The application of a special fertilizer formulation on sugarcane has virtually doubled the yield in terms of cane tonnage as well as in sugar yield. The treated cane plants yielded 265 tons per hectare compared to 138 tons of the untreated.
This was shown by an experiment in a commercial sugarcane plantation in Victoria, Tarlac owned by Mauro and Melanie Merculio who planted the Indonesian variety PS862.

The special fertilizer is the Power Grower Combo formulated by Alfonso J. Puyat who has done a lot of personal research in plant nutrition. The power fertilizer contains high phosphorus with smaller amounts of nitrogen and potassium and enriched with a growth promotant. The treatment was also bolstered by a dose of soluble silicon that makes the plants more sturdy.

The experimental cane plants are a first ratoon crop, meaning the second crop from the original cane points planted. After harvesting the first crop, new shoots come out which make up the first ratoon crop.

In the experiment, the original planting stools were rehabilitated in January 2012. This means the hills were cleared of debris and top soil added around the hills wherever necessary.

One week after the first rain in May, the plants which were about breast high were sprayed with the Power Grower Combo. This was sprayed for the second time with Power Grower Combo one month later when the plants were as tall as an average Filipino man. In the second spraying, a soluble silicon, also formulated by Mr. Puyat, was added to the power grower.

The fertilizer treatment is very economical. During the first spray, 8 scoops (72 grams) were used per 16-liter knapsack sprayer. In the second spraying 8 scoops of Power Grower Combo and 8 scoops of soluble silicon were combined and sprayed together.

On November 23, 2012, the canes were harvested and data gathered. The laboratory analysis was made at the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Sugar Laboratory in Luisita.

Here are the results. Millable stalks with average of 95 inches were taken from both the treated and untreated plants. The treated stalks weighed 2.3 kilos each compared to the control which weighed 1.54 kilos.

The number of millable stalks for the treated plants numbered 17.28 canes per linear meter whereas it is 13.83 for the control or untreated plants. The possible number of tons per hectare in the treated plants is 265 whereas it is only 138 tons in the case of the control.

In terms of sugar yield, the treated plants had a possible yield of 524 bags of 50 kilos each compared to only 254 bags of the untreated canes. The national average in crop year 2009-2010, on the other hand, is only 102.2 bags per hectare.

Sugarcane is the latest crop to be experimented with the use of Mr. Puyat’s fertilizer formulations. Earlier, his Power Grower Combo and Heavy Weight formulations produced bumper crops in corn and rice. It has also proven to be effective in fruit trees and vegetables.

Fernando Gabuyo of San Jose City has been harvesting 280 to more than 300 cavans per hectare of rice by using the Puyat protocol.

In Duku and Longkong lanzones, Gen. Recaredo Sarmiento reported heavy fruiting of his trees. In fact, a second flush of flowers followed after harvesting the fruits of his Duku lanzones in Lucena City.

In our own experience, the Power Grower Combo has triggered fast growth of seedlings and has made old trees robust. Pomegranate, grafted Luz calamansi and pummelos respond very well to Power Grower Combo sprays.

Mr. Puyat explains that when the Power Grower Combo is sprayed on the leaves, the plants feel hungry so they take up as much plant nutrients from the soil as possible. That is why he recommends application of adequate balanced fertilizer in the soil.

The Heavy Weight Tandem is sprayed in the flowering or fruiting stage of plants to make the fruits bigger, more uniform and sweeter in the case of citrus and other fruits. The formulation is high in potassium.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

National Mango Congress, March 13-15, 2013

The next National Mango Congress will be held on March 13-15, 2013 in Iba, Zambales. This will coincide with the Mango Festival held every year in the province.

This was announced by Evelyn Grace, president of the association of mango growers in Zambales. The Congress is under the auspices of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation, Inc. headed by Virgie de la Fuente from Cebu. The last Mango Congress was held in Mandaue City, Cebu, on November 14-16, 2012.

At the last Congress, the Zambales delegation attended in full force, including Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Vice Gov. Ramon Lacbain II, other local government officials as well as growers.

Evelyn A. Grace, president of the Zambales mango
growers association (left), and Virgie de la Fuente,
president of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GABBY B. RETUYA: Farmer Hero

GABBY RETUYA in his ampalaya plantation.
GABBY B. RETUYA, 30, is an outstanding  farmer who plants 12 hectares to different vegetables.He is one of 30 Farmer Heroes who will be honored on December 12, 2012 during the celebration of East-West Seed Company's 30th anniversary in San Rafael, Bulacan.

This year, 2012, he planted 3 hectares to Galaxy ampalaya which gave him 30 to 35 tons per hectare. He planted another 3 hectares to Django finger pepper which gave him 24 tons per hectare. On 4 hectares, he planted Mayumi and Dalisay upo varieties and got 40 tons per hectare.On 2 hectares that he planted to stringbeans of the Bonga and Pantastiko varieties, he got 20 tons per hectare.

Gabby is a college graduate who opted to become a full time farmer. He started growing vegetables in 2004 when he was just 22 years old. He grew rich from vegetable farming and is now helping other farmers by providing them with financing. 

Aside from growing his own crops, he also engages in buying and selling vegetables, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals.

Grafted Ampalaya Gives Extra 10 Harvests

In foreground is Myrna Ramirez
who can graft 800 seedlings in
8 hours. Behind her is Ailyn
Infortuno, the lead woman in the
grafting operations at East-West.
Newly grafted ampalaya seedlings.
Rootstocks ready for grafting
THE LATEST development in growing ampalaya (bitter gourd) is grafting. That’s what they are doing at the Farm Ready Nursery of East-West Seed Company in San Rafael, Bulacan.
The technique was started to be commercialized last year and is now becoming increasingly popular. During our recent visit to the nursery, technicians were busy grafting thousands of seedlings that have been ordered by growers in Nueva Ecija and Southern Luzon.

Although the grafted seedlings cost P17 each compared to the P4 to P5 per piece of the un-grafted seedlings, there are farmers who would rather plant the grafted ones.

Why? Because the grafted seedlings are more robust and more tolerant to stresses such as bacterial wilt disease, too much water or too dry conditions. According to Ailyn Infortuno, the lead woman in the grafting operations, the grafted seedlings have a much longer productive life. Usually, the ungrafted seedlings normally produce 18 to 20 harvests per cycle. In the case of the grafted ampalaya, the grower can expect 10 extra harvests.

East-West uses as rootstock a certain variety of cucurbit (cucurbits include upo, patola, cucumber, watermelon and the like) that the company would rather keep to itself.

In grafting, a small biodegradable rubber tube is used to keep the point of union in place. The seed of the rootstock is planted ahead by four days. When the rootstock is 12 days old it is ready for grafting. By then the scion would be eight days old.

The seedlings are grown in plastic trays with 104 holes. Once grafting is done, the tray of grafted seedlings is placed in a healing chamber that’s fully enclosed inside the greenhouse. They stay inside the chamber for four days. After that, the grafted seedlings are transferred to another chamber which is opened every two hours to let air inside. That is one way of hardening the plants. Ten days after grafting, the seedlings are ready for field planting.

Ampalaya is one of the most profitable vegetables to grow although it requires more capital than others. A total of P300,000 to P500,000 may be required as capital per hectare because of the high cost of planting materials, trellising materials, plastic mulch, fertilizers and crop protection chemicals. Nevertheless, with the right production techniques such as those practiced by Gabby Retuya of Bautista, Pangasinan, one can produce 30 to 35 tons per hectare. At an average of P30 per kilo, the 30 tons would be worth P900,000. There are times when the farmgate price is more than P50 per kilo. In that case, the profit would be very high, indeed.

By the way, the different vegetables being propagated by East-West Seed will be showcased during the celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary on December 12. These include, new sitao varieties, squash, papaya, sweet corn, tomato, eggplant, cucumber, upo, patola, hot and sweet peppers, onion, watermelon and others.
During the anniversary, 30 outstanding vegetable producers who are planting East-West seeds will be honored.
The grafted seedlings are ready for field planting
ten days after they are grafted.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...