Monday, February 25, 2013

March Agriculture Magazine Out

Ernesto Abalos is featured on the cover of the March 2013 issue of Agriculture Magazine with his Paraoakan chickens which are becoming a favorite of native chicken enthusiasts. The magazine is now off the press. It features many other stories about successful agri-people, new ideas and research results. Agriculture Magazine is the most widely circulated agriculture magazine in the country which is available in bookstores and in outlets of Manila Bulletin nationwide.

By the way, you can contact Ernie Abalos at 0917-536-5503.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hi-Tech Lab at Simon Groot Research Center

We were among the few who were privileged to observe the high-tech laboratory, the Molecular Genetics Lab, at the Simon Groot Research Center, East-West Seed International, in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand last February 24, 2013. This can provide molecular markers that help senior researchers to facilitate their plant breeding work.

We could not show any photo here because we were not allowed to take pictures. One expensive machine could analyze 50,000 samples of plant materials in one day. What for are they analyzing the plant samples? So they can check the genetic purity of seeds and samples of plants that they are using in their breeding work. They can determine if the sample plants are infected with viruses or diseases. They can also see if there are alien seeds in a batch of seeds intended for commercial distribution. 

The machine could also check the DNA of the plants submitted for analysis. They could determine the characteristics of the sample plants.  The color, shape, disease resistance of the plants could be determined more easily with the molecular markers the machines provide. This is very important to facilitate the breeding work of the plant breeders. With the molecular markers, the process of producing new hybrids could be reduced from the usual 6 to 8 years to only 4 years. 

A new machine has also been added that can analyze more than double the capacity of the first machine. Eventually, they will need a machine that can analyze 250,000 samples in one day. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yellissimo Watermelon A Hit At The Field Day

The group from DA and Nabcor showing slices of Yellissimo.
A new yellow-fleshed watermelon was a hit among visitors at the Allied Botanical Field Day in Tayug, Pangasinan which we attended on February 21, 2013. The new variety is called Yellissimo, a hybrid that is sweeter than most other watermelons in the market.

Among those who enjoyed eating the new variety were visitors from the Department of Agriculture and staff of the National Agribusiness Corporation (Nabcor), shown in the group picture here. They include Aileen Cantalejo, Leah Rasonabe, Gale del Rosario, Jenny Remoquillo of the High Value Crops Development Program, Celerina Miranda and Jallyne Remoquillo of DA.

Aside from its sweetness, the flesh is not grainy as is often the case of many varieties in the market. It is relatively small, 3-4 kilos, so it is just right for one serving for an average household. Yellissimo is early maturing - the fruits are harvestable in 60 to 65 days.

Some enterprising farmers time their planting in October so they will harvest during the Christmas season when the price is usually high. One can plant 7,000 hills per hectare, and each hill can yield two marketable fruits.

Jenny Remoquillo with a bowl
of Yellissimo
Gale del Rosario and a slice of

What's Up In Hot Pepper

Prolific finger pepper with yellow fruits.
This is the hot pepper with foot-long fruits.
At the breeding station of East-West Seed International at the Lanchang Farms in Chiang Mai, Thailand, a lot of interesting developments are happening. We visited the place last February 5, 2013.

One hot pepper that stood out is a variety that produces slender fruits that are a foot long or longer. Henk Pascha, head plant breeder, said that it is being developed for the China market.

Henk Pascha also showed us the very hot Jalapeño pepper that produces small fruits. They have started crossing the small-fruited pepper with varieties that bear big fruits. The objective is to transfer the superhot trait to a hybrid with much bigger fruits.

We also saw a very prolific finger pepper that produces a lot of yellow fruits. It is something novel.

Henk Pascha with fruitful Jalapeño pepper
which is being crossed with plants that
produce bigger fruits.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

High-Yielding Palee Ampalaya In India

Ric Reyes is the Combination
 Product and Marketing
Manager of East-West Seed

 Company. He is shown
here in a Palee ampalaya 

plantation in India.
Ric Reyes is all smiles as he poses with a very fruitful crop of Palee ampalaya which has become the leading variety grown in India today. 

This is a high-yielding hybrid developed by East-West Seed plant breeders to replace the old Indian variety that has spiny skin, a trait favored by Indian consumers. 

The Palee hybrid produces more than double the usual yield of the old spiny variety. The Palee is also becoming a favorite of farmers in Sri Lanka and Myanmar where East-West seeds are now being marketed.

Mulch Your Fruit Trees With Rice Husk

As the dry season is just around the corner, you can conserve moisture content in your fruit tree plantation by mulching the trees with two inches of rice husk about a meter around the base. 

The mulch will not only prevent fast drying of the soil, it will also prevent the growth of weeds. Photo shows a pummelo  tree mulched with rice husk at the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal.

Rice husk could also be used for mulching other trees, including young forest trees. Of course, you should regularly check the soil under the mulch to see if the tree needs watering.

Slanting Trellis

In many instances, trellises for viny vegetables are constructed standing erect. This one used for French beans Ayoka at the Simon Groot Research Center (SGRC) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is slanting.

 It has its own advantages. The leaves have a wider exposure to sunlight, and the fruits hang for easy harvesting at the underside of the trellis. 

Ayoka is a particularly prolific variety developed by East-West Seed company. It was showcased during the International Field Day at the SGRC on February 4, 2013.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Super Pechay?

This is from the garden of Mr. and Mrs.
Rodrigo España in General Santos City.
No, it is not a special variety of pechay. It is one of those ordinarily available in seed stores. It just happens that it was sprayed with the special fertilizer formulation of Mr. Alfonso G. Puyat, the Power Grower Combo.

The plant was sprayed with Power Grower Combo four days after it was transplanted. Fifteen days later, it was sprayed with the special fertilizer for the second and last time.

The plant became very robust and tender at harvest time less than one month from transplanting.

Power Grower Combo also works wonders for other crops, including fruit trees, rice and corn, sugarcane, tobacco and practically every crop.

Text your full name and address to 0917-841-5477 so you will know how to order Power Grower Combo even if you are in the province. If you wish, you may also visit Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, where you can pick up the same yourself. Another formulation called Heavy Weight Tandem that promotes fruiting is also available.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Healthy Snack Food From Bangkok

PHOTO shows packs of ready-to-eat snack foods available in supermarkets like Big C in Bangkok, Thailand.
These could as well be copied by their Philippine counterparts. The packs include boiled sweet corn scraped from its cob, sticky rice, boiled gabi and camote roots.

These snack packs are filling and very healthy, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

National Mango Congress Moved To Mar. 20-22

Evelyn A. Grace and Virgie de la Fuente.
The 15th National Mango Congress has been moved to March 20 to 22, 2013, in Iba, Zambales. It was originally scheduled for March 13-14.

The new schedule was announced by Virgie de la Fuente, president of the Philippine Mango Industry Foundation, Inc. The host organization of mango growers is headed by Evelyn A. Grace with the full support of the provincial government and the Department of Agriculture.

Virgie de la Fuente can be contacted for additional information at 0908-309-2083; 0916-358-7738 or 0922-257-1199.

Ikenobo Ikebana Exhibit on Feb. 25-26, 2013

The Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Manila is inviting the public to a viewing of their exhibit of their floral arts on Feb. 25 to 26, 2013 at the Atrium, EDSA Shangri-La Mall, Mandaluyong City. The exhibit is open free to the public from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Before the exhibits, there will be a public demonstration by visiting Prof. Takashi Moribe from Kyoto, Japan on Feb. 23 from 2-5 p.m. at the Podium, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City. The demo is jointly sponsored by the Embassy of Japan, the Podium and the Ikenobo Ikebana Society of Manila #67.

Those who would like to become a member of Ikenobo Ikebana Society may contact Serapion S. Metilla at 0939-922-2804.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pandan For Floral Arrangement, Not For Cooking

This is a photo of a beautiful variegated pandan sent to us by Dr. Benito S. Vergara of Los Baños.

He says, this is not for cooking. It is an excellent material for use in floral arrangements.

It could be a money-maker for those who can grow the plant in big numbers and harvest the leaves for sale to flower shops or at the Dangwa Flower Market in Sampaloc, Manila.

A Plant Lover's Lament

These are different varieties of Pothos, 
including Golden Ray, Silver Ray, 
Old Gold, Silver and Old Silver.
A Filipino National Scientist who is very much involved in the horticulture industry has a very valid lament.

He is Dr. Benito S. Vergara, a retired scientist of the International Rice Research Institute who is now very much involved in the plant business.

He usually makes a trip to Thailand where he has a lot of former students who usually guide him during his visits there.

In Thailand, he says: "You want 10,000 uniform seedlings for export or for supplying a landscaper for a semi-shaded area? Easy, ask a Thai nursery person and give him 6 months to produce as many plants as you want of pothos, syngonium and scindapsus. These plants are now tissue-cultured in Thailand and available at very reasonable price."

Now, he asks: "When will the local nursery grower benefit from such technologies? Technicians are available but no adequate laboratory and supply of chemicals at reasonable price. I have often received answers from the government that we already have sufficient labs. Where are they? What are the rates?"

KUNDOL: A Neglected Crop In The Philippines

TOM BRILLO of East-West Seed Philippines holding a
7-kilo wax gourd at the Talad Thai Market north of Bangkok.
Note the big pile of wax gourd in the wholesale market.
Kundol or wax gourd is an old fruit vegetable in the Philippines but it remains a very minor and neglected crop. There is need to promote the growing of this vegetable both in backyards as well as in commercial scale.
Kundol growing and consumption should be promoted for a number of good reasons. Simple dishes could be prepared with very little expense, yet delicious and tasty. One old dish we remember in the Ilocos which is not common now is to cook thinly sliced kundol with  pieces of native chicken and sotanghon with just enough broth. For variation kundol could be prepared into a soupy dish. Of course there are some other ways of preparing.

The kundol is also used for making sweets. The good thing about kundol is that the fruits are big and a lot of sweets could be produced with just one fruit.

Kundol is easy to grow. They are high-yielding, too. We have seen some at the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand recently. And the good thing is that improved varieties are being developed by seed companies like East-West Seed.

We met Ing-Orn Srikubua at the International Field Day where she attended to visitors in the wax gourd section of the demo farm. She said that they have developed a cylindrical variety for the Thai market whereas another type with round fruits was developed for the Indian market. Both are high-yielding and resistant to diseases.

The good thing about kundol is that the fruits can be stored for months under ordinary conditions. That is why it is also a favorite in Taiwan where they have winter. They call the kundol winter gourd because that’s what is most available during the winter months.

At the 30th anniversary celebration of East-West Seed in Bulacan last December, we saw a showcase of prolific kundol at the demo farm. To this day, we have been wondering why farmers are not producing more kundol. It could be a money-maker even for the small-scale growers. Big-volume producers could also encourage more processors to do value-adding to the neglected kundol fruit.

Ing-Orn Srikubua posing with
East-West's wax gourd variety
for the Thai market. Each fruit
is relatively small, cylindrical
and weighing 3-4 kilos each.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How To Produce Big Makopa Fruits

These are big fruits of green makopa
at the Talad Thai Market in Thailand.
Only one fruit is retained per cluster
so that the mature fruits are big.
The green wax apple or Makopa being sold at the Talad Thai Market in Thailand are really big compared to fruits that are produced by growers in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the same variety comes in much smaller sizes. The main reason is that the growers don't thin their fruits. It is very common that clusters of as many as 7 fruits are produced on the tree. Because many growers don't remove the excess fruits, the mature fruits are necessarily small.

In Thailand, growers just leave one fruit to develop and mature per cluster. That's the main reason why the fruits sold in the markets are big. 

Another secret in producing fruits that are sweet and crisp is to include trace elements in the fertilizer applied when the fruits are developing. When the fruits are half mature, a high-potash formulation will make the fruits sweeter.

The fruits have to be bagged to protect them from fruitfly damage. The bag could be made of cloth or sheets of paper. At the Teresa Orchard & Nursery in Teresa, Rizal, we use cloth bags.

 By the way, we visited the Talad Thai Market on February 7, 2013 together with visitors from Iran, Sri Lanka and South American countries who attended the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

This is a typical cluster of green
makopa in the Philippines. Because
the cluster is not thinned, the fruits
will be small. The recommendation is
to leave just one fruit per cluster.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Prolific Finger Peppers

Nongluck Milerue, a pepper breeder at the East-West
in Thailand, poses with a promising pepper hybrid.
The new hybrids of  hot finger peppers were showcased at the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, on February 4, 2013.

These included new varieties being intended for different markets such as the Philippines, India, China, Vietnam, Aftica, Sri Lanka and to the Latin American countries in South America.

The pepper plants are trained to grow upright.
They are pruned at the bottom so that there
is free flow of air above ground. The fruits
are visible and are easier to harvest.
What a prolific finger pepper!
The one intended for the Philippines is tentatively named Batur which may take the place of Django, the front-running "Pangsigang" variety in the Philippines. Batur is said to be more prolific than Django, the fruits are a bit bigger, and the plant is more resistant to bacterial wilt disease.

This is Batur, a new finger pepper
variety for the Philippines.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Grafted Papaya In Taiwan

Yu Cai, a technical staff of a seed company in Thailand, informed us that in Taiwan they are grafting papayas. This is something new to us because we only knew that in the past many years they were only grafting vegetables and other high-value crops like tomato, eggplant, melons and other cucurbits.

They graft unto any papaya rootstock scions from a hermaphrodite plant which they simply call "herma." The objective is to produce herma fruits which are oblong. They don't want the round fruits of the truly female papaya. Why?

Because they claim that the herma fruits taste better and are preferred by consumers. Moreover, herma fruits are easier to arrange in a crate for shipment.

In producing scions for grafting, they take young seedlings that are confirmed hermaphrodite. When they are about two feet tall, they nip the growing point of the plant so it will produce several new shoots which they graft unto the  rootstock.

By the way, we met Yu cai at the International Field Day at the Simon Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand on Feb. 4, 2013. Stakeholders in the global papaya industry from 25 countries attended the field day. Of course, the field day also showcased many other commercial high-value vegetables and other crops.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

New Salad Tomato From East-West Seed

Karina van Leeuwen is Crop Breeding
manager of the East-West Seed Group.
It was shown to the public for the first time during the International Field Day held on Feb. 4, 2013 at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The latest salad tomato variety to be released by East-West Seed International for commercial planting is the Millennium variety developed by the team headed by Karina van Leeuwen, the crop breeding manager for the East-West Group.

Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, East-West
Seed general manager in the Philippines,
holds a fruit of Millennium salad tomato.
One fruit could fetch P70 in the Philippines.
The Millennium is the first output of the company under its new beef or salad tomato program, according to Karina. The variety is intended for growing under greenhouse. It is indeterminate and can grow up to three meters high. Each plant can produce 10 to 12 clusters of fruits, each cluster weighing about one kilo.

The salad tomato is very expensive. In the Philippines, according to Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc, general manager of East-West Seed Philippines, one fruit can cost as much as P70 in an upscale supermarket.

Karina has been breeding tomatoes for East-West Seed for several years now. For a number of years, she was posted in the Philippines and developed the very high-yielding D-Max variety that is good for year-round production. This variety has made many farmers in the Philippines very rich.

SM Foundation Supports Other Livelihood Trainings

Out-of-school youth are undergoing training
in Landscape Installation and Maintenance
SM Foundation is well known for its vegetable training program called "Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan" Farmers Training Program.

Little known is the fact that SM Foundation is also conducting several skills development courses.

At the Foundation's Skills Training Center in Nasugbu, Batangas, several training courses have been conducted for women, men and the youth.

These include Specialized Hospitality Skills training program, tailoring and dressmaking, candle making, and the "Isang Gunting, Isang Kulot" program. These training courses are conducted inpartnership with Fil-Hair Foundation, Taal Vista Hotel, CDHI, and Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, and Hotel Specialist Inc.

Most of the graduates are already employed in the partner agencies while others opted to find employment in Metro Manila. Still others have put up their own businesses like those who finished the courses in candle making.

Landscaping Installation and Maintenance, the latest of these livelihood projects, has graduated 26 out-of-school youth. The 30-day course was conducted at the SM Foundation Skills Training Center in Nasugbu by Dr. Armando Palijon of UP Los Baños and Lorenz Palec, landscape supervisor at the Costa del Hamilo, Inc. Estate Management Office. Better work opportunities await these graduates after hurdling the examination and skills assessment given by TESDA.

Other livelihood projects include free-range chicken raising, hog and carabao dispersal, tree planting and mangrove reforestaion, and backyard farming.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Papaya With Mango Flavor A Hit At Field Day

Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc and your blogger,
Zac B. Sarian, tasting the "Papamango"
 during theInternational Field Day in
 Chiang Mai, February 4, 2013.
The new hybrid papaya which has a mango flavor was a hit at the International Field Day at the Simon N. Groot Research Center in Sansai, Chang Mai, Thailand last February 4, 2013.
Ric Reyes and a plate of Papamango
for tasting by visitors.
This is a very promising variety that will be field tested later this year in the Philippines. It has a yellow flesh, sweet and juicy.

A lot of people who tasted the sample fruits were impressed by its peculiar taste that reminds one of mango flavor.

This "Papamango" is the result of several years of breeding work by Lamai Yapanan and her colleagues at the East-West Seed International in Thailand. Lamai is a lady plant breeder who has also developed notable hybrids of ampalaya or bitter gourd.

The new papaya does not have an official name yet, but for easy recall, those who have tasted it just call it Papamango.

A plate of cubed "Papamango" ready for serving.
Lamai Yapanan (right) with Zac B. Sarian. She
and her colleagues bred the "Papamango." She
also bred the leading bitter gourd variety
called Kiew Yok 16 which has big fruits shown

here in photo. It is the favorite of Thai and Vietnamese

Friday, February 1, 2013

Organic Egg Production At Costales Nature Farms

Ronald Costales and his layers.
The Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna is also exclusively producing organic eggs for a client that also buys his culinary herbs, leafy greens and sweet corn. 

The chickens are very tame, and they lay big eggs that fetch as much as P15 apiece. 

The chickens are fed with their own feed formulation consisting of corn grits, fine rice bran, copra meal, soybean meal, livestock lime and fermented hog feed. To prevent disease, EM or effective micro-organisms is added to their drinking water. They are also given an immune booster consisting of a concoction of garlic, ginger and molasses. Ronald says this is anti-bacterial.

Flat-Leaf Parsley Is P500 Per Kilo

Eddie Gamalando with a
 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
that sells at P500 a kilo
THE FLAT-LEAF PARSLEY is one of the money-makers at the Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. It is being sold at P500 per kilo to specialty restaurants and other customers, especially in Metro Manila.

It is useful as a flavoring for soups, salads, stews and more. Photo shows Eddie Gamalando of Costales Nature Farms showing a bunch of flat-leaf parsley grown in a greenhouse.

With a greenhouse, production is year-round. Ronald Costales, the farm owner, says that the flat-leaf parsley is good for the health of the kidney. 

There is another variety, the curly parsley which is less flavorful than the flat-leaf. It is, however, more decorative and it has its own use in culinary preparations.

Vermi Tea Brewer At AANI Urban Farm

ONE WAY to apply vermicast in an economical way is to convert it into a tea. This can be done with the use of a vermi tea brewer shown here in photo.

Vermicast, the feces of the African nightcrawler earthworm, is placd in the brewer together with molasses. By means of an aerator, the beneficial organisms in the vermicast multiply. The liquid is then used as organic foliar fertilizer, sprayed on the leaves or drenched in the planting soil.

This brewer is available at the AANI Urban Farm in Antipolo City. Contact Pol Rubia for more details at 0917-847-5071.

Agri-Fisheries Confab Set Feb. 6-8, 2013

A National Conference on Agriculture and Fisheries Information Knowledge Management (IKM) will be held on Feb. 6-8 at Hotel Kimberly in Tagaytay City.

The event is organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in cooperation with the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) of the Department of Agriculture.

The event will convene the agricultural and fisheries IKM community to draft terms of reference of information and knowledge management staff, propose information and knowledge management staffing policies, and validate and finalize a capacity development program on IKM.

Expected to attend are regional managers and information officers/technical staff from the DA-BAR, Regional Integrated Agricultural Research Centers (RIARCs), Regional Fisheries Research and Development Centers (RFRDCs), and the DA bureaus and attached agencies.

They will take off from the outputs of a series of training activities and consultative workshops held last year in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to arrive at a conceptual definition of and an approach to IKM that could apply to the agriculture and fisheries sector.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

ZAC B. SARIAN: Notice to Readers,Pageviewers, Friends

Zac B. Sarian might not be able to answer your inquiries and other messages from February 3 to 8, 2013. I will be attending an International Field Day in Chang Mai, Thailand, where they will showcase more than 200 varieties of vegetables, 25 of which will be shown to the world for the first time. I will also visit farms in other parts of Thailand to meet successful farmers. We will also visit our favorite market, Talad Thai Market north of Bangkok.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sweet Corn In A Greenhouse

Ronald Costales posing with sweet corn
and French beans he grows inside a greenhouse.
RONALD COSTALES of Costales Nature Farms will do everything just to meet the demand of a special customer.

A big customer that distributes organically grown food products wanted to be assured of a supply of sweet corn all year round. So what did Ronald do?

He is now growing sweet corn inside a greenhouse together with other high-value crops like French beans, arugula, flat-leaf parsley and others.

Some might think that it is just too expensive to produce sweet corn in a greenhouse. That's true but Ronald says it is still profitable. After all, his buyer which has several branches in Metro Manila and some provinces, pays him P120 per kilo. That's about P40 per ear!

Costales Nature Farms is now a tourist destination. It is in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna. Some may consider the farm remote but about 2,000 agri-tourists visit it every month. Entrance fee is P200 per person who is given a meal of organically grown salad.
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