By Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture
Feeling complacent about getting more yield because of the good standing crop on your farm? You should not be. Improper harvest management can also give you reasons to grieve over crop losses.
According to rice experts, improper harvest and postharvest activities can lead up to 15% yield losses. That means a farmer can lose up to 15 cavans for every 100-cavan yield. At a buying price of 10 pesos per kilo of palay, it translates to PhP 7,500.
There are a number of easy ways to avoid these losses.
One is proper timing of last irrigation. “It should be one week before harvest for light-textured soils and two weeks before harvest for heavy-textured soils,” said Jovino De Dios of the Agronomy, Soils, and Plant Physiology Division of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).
“This ensures sufficient moisture to complete grain filling,” he explained. “Harvest operations are also made easier and more efficient.”
Probably the most important recommendation, cutting and threshing the crop at the right time will ensure good grain quality, high market value, and consumer acceptance.
“Reaping too early results in a higher percentage of immature grains and lower milling recovery,” explained Dr. Caesar Joventino Tado, PhilRice expert. “Reaping too late, on the other hand, increases grain shattering and excessive losses in terms of breakage during milling.”
Farmers should harvest the crop when one-fifth or 20% of the grains at the base of the panicle are in hard dough stage. At this stage, most of the grains in the panicle are golden yellow. Farmers can assess the maturity by pressing a grain from the base of panicle between the thumb and forefinger.
“Threshing the palay immediately after harvest is another good practice. It should not be later than one day after reaping for wet season rice and not later than two days for dry season,” Tado stressed. “Harvested rice piled in the field for more than a day results in heat buildup in the grain. This leads to grain discoloration, which lowers the quality of milled rice.”
Also, the thresher must be clean and have correct machine settings.
“The blower should be set at the correct speed (approximately 800 rpm) to provide good initial cleaning of the harvest. A high-speed setting of the threshing drum results in higher grain damage while a low speed setting increases the amount of non-threshed grain, resulting to grain loss,” Tado explained.
Click here to review Jaro Leyte Rice farmer Roel standing over is colorful and healthy rice crop after using Nutriplant Organic Nutrients.