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PIA Press Release

"Tungro" destroys P20-M worth of rice in Kalinga

by Larry Lopez

TABUK, Kalinga (9 October) -- Rice farmers here expect at least P20 million worth in losses this wet cropping after their rice plants have been infested by 'tungro' which is considered the most dreadful palay disease.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Kalinga Rice Specialist Joe Casibang confirmed the infestation of 'tungro' after conducting actual inspection in affected areas. The disease has now affected about 560 hectares of palay in barangays Agbannawag, Bulo, Lacnog, Madopdop, Nambaran, Mapaway and Ipil, all of this town.

'Tungro' is the disease ever known in the province that can cause the heaviest damage to rice, with a 68% production loss, Casibang said. It came at the time while rice plants are still recovering from the attack of the bacteria-base leaf blight as early as July. But unlike leaf blight which can be treated by bactericides, 'tungro' has no cure.

Infested rice plants bear almost the same symptom with that of leaf blight characterized by yellowing of leaves, however, with 'tungro' there is the clasping of stems making the plant stunted.

To prevent the further spread of the disease, DA-Kalinga recommended two pest management options to farmers. Since 'tungro' virus is spread by some insects known as green leaf hoppers, farmers need to eradicate the vectors with massive spraying of insecticides.

For the farming method, DA-Kalinga is recommending a six weeks cropping gap to eliminate totally the green leaf hoppers which feed on the remaining vegetation after harvest. In six weeks time, all have dried leaving nothing for the insect vectors to eat. Insect vectors usually feed on young stems, making them hop from one area to another.Synchronized planting by area to avoid possibility of any feeding point for green leaf hoppers is recommended in such instances, Casibang said.

It was found out in the DA investigation that there are some rice varieties that are highly susceptible to the virus like the PJ varieties. However, the tungroŁ virus runs across all varieties once it has developed in an area, Casibang explained.

Another preventive practice is proper irrigation management, as the virus can be carried by irrigation water from one paddy to another. Overflowing irrigation water can be another vector of the disease.

Alarmed by the extent of damages often caused by crop infestation in the province, Casibang expressed his concern for the need of plant pathologist and entomologist at their office who can lead the disease surveillance and detection team. (PIA-Kalinga) [top]

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