THE Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said the rice crop in four regions is at risk of pest infestations in the first quarter.

In a statement, PhilRice, citing the Bureau of Plant Industry, identified the risk areas as Regions 3, 5, 6, and 7.

“Experts recommended practicing field sanitation and fallow periods, synchronizing planting schedules, timing control applications, and regularly monitoring fields to effectively mitigate pest infestations,” it said.

The pests listed by BPI include rodents, brown planthoppers, rice stem borers, bacterial leaf blight, and rice black bugs.

PhilRice also urged farmers from Regions 3 and 8 to monitor infestations of the brown planthopper. The insects suck the sap of rice plants, leading to the wilting of shoots or the entire plant and promoting mold growth.

Leonardo V. Marquez, pest management expert, said: “Farmers are encouraged to refrain from excessive nitrogen usage in flood fields as necessary, and to apply insecticides judiciously.”

Producers from Regions 3, 5, and 6 were also advised to monitor bacterial leaf blight that could reduce rice yields by 10% to 60%.

PhilRice said parts of Western Visayas and Central Luzon may be affected by the rice black bug, diminishing yields by 15-23%. — Adrian H. Halili