In a collaborative research, Benguet State University (BSU) and University of the Philippines (UP) set on a quest to figure out the enigmatic plant pathogens that affect the economically important crops in the Cordillera Region and to generate management strategies with stakeholders by conducting studies on several crops found in the region.
As stated in HORTI-BSU’s report, plant pathogenic fungi and nematodes pose a threat to agricultural productivity and can result in significant economic losses. As pests continue to damage agricultural crop productivity and pest populations grow, the most effective and widely used technique of management is the use of chemical pesticides.
However, unabated chemical usage can lead to insect resistance and worsen agricultural management and environmental health. Therefore, BSU and UP decided to launch a joint initiative on fungicide surveying last year.
The report further stated that agricultural methods used on farms continue to have an impact on our microbial populations. Thus, an open dialogue with the farmers, researchers, and agricultural technicians from Benguet’s local government units, along with students and faculty members, were opened last March 9 to better understand how the sector will make choices and policies for new diseases and pests of crops significant to the economy with the aid of presentations from the studies conducted by the two institutions.
The first study took place at Kapangan and La Trinidad, Benguet wherein fungal pathogens were identified in strawberry, lettuce, and cabbage. Speaker Dr. Leilani S. Dacones presented the typical results of fungal infections revealed in their research. One fungal pathogen found in strawberries were the Botrytis cinerea responsible for the gray mold which is economically harmful for the crop.
She further explained that the mold is the most prevalent cause of fruit rejection by producers, shippers, and consumers, resulting in substantial economic losses.
Hence, the following were recommended for dealing with fungicide resistance: use different products sparingly, restrict the number of treatments applied per season, maintain the manufacturer’s recommended dose, avoid use of chemicals for eradication, integrate disease management, and lastly, there should be chemical diversity.
Final result for the study is currently being processed, and dissemination will come after the exact findings are out.
Likewise, speaker Asst. Prof. Romnick A. Latina shared his findings with his study entitled “Morpho-molecular characterization of golden potato cyst nematode population from Bauko, Mt. Province, Philippines”. He discussed that the common pests of potatoes present in the Philippines, which are also the major pests worldwide, are the Globodera rostochiensis (Golden Cyst Nematodes) and Globodera pallida (White Cyst Nematodes), generally known as Potato Cyst Nematodes (PCN).
His study has drawn the following diagnosis of symptoms of PCN: the whole potato plant suffers from dwarfing or stunting and early death, the leaves wilt, become yellow or have abnormal colors, and the root system is reduced and encysted. In addition, field symptoms are yellow or there are stunted patches in early stages and sparse foliage in late stages.
Meanwhile, the signs of PCN are infective juveniles, eggs, and cysts. Some recommendations to combat the disease were the practice of cultural-crop rotation for fallow lands, application of nematicides or fumigation of chemical-soil, and the integration of biological microbes or botanical.
It was also recommended that the aforementioned be considered when seeing suppressed growth/deceased production in crop plants in ascending order. Speaker Latina also advised to look for and assess symptoms of nematode damage, collect soil and plant tissue samples, extract nematodes from samples, identify nematodes, conduct nematode density assessment, nematode damage analysis, and management decision.
Based on the findings, it was the Globodera rostochiensis (Golden Cysts Nematodes) that plagues the potato crop in Bauko.
The researchers then advised that good farming practices must still be observed as a precaution since nematodes are not easy to kill even with the usage of different fungicides. By Lyka D. Cualan