Trees, too, are getting stressed by El Niņo
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (16 March) -- Farmers in Mindanao are now told to protect trees rather than just fruits.
With the long dry spell expected to last until June this year, Mindanao Fruit Council officer Larry Miculob warned fruit farmers to worry more on the fruit trees rather than the quantity of fruit production.
The official got common complaints from various members of the council, most are small fruit growers, that trees are getting too much heat and that they may no longer bear fruits after this harvest season.
"Karamihan sa mga durian fruit natin ngayon ay may makunat na balat. Ibig sabihin nito ay natutuyo na ang kahoy. Ito ang dapat nating iwasan." (Currently much of our durian fruit have tough skin, it means the trees are drying up, this we should prevent) said Miculob.
A study revealed that prolonged rainless spells and high temperatures place severe stress on trees. Add to that disturbances to the unseen root system through various construction and other human activities, and you have trees declining or dying.
The official explained that trees exhale moisture from their leaves in a process called transpiration. As temperatures climb, transpiration kicks into overdrive. During a drought, there isn't enough water in the soil to replenish the water lost. When this happens, trees adopt survival strategies that can stress and weaken them.
This worries most fruit farmers in Mindanao especially if rain won't come on mid-April.
This time, the region and most parts of Mindanao get full production of fruits even if March and April are usually off peak seasons for fruit harvests.
"But because of the long dry spell we experienced last September 2009, most of our trees are stressed and they produced fruits on months unexpected by most farmers," Miculob added.
The fruit council hopes for rainwater to pour starting next month, otherwise, Davao City would definitely experience a fruitless Kadayawan Festival. This festival is supposed to be a celebration of a bountiful fruit and flower harvest.
Farmers are advised to invest on irrigation as this would help much in protecting the trees and ensuring high produce. (PIA XI) [top]