Relay cropping maximizes productivity

By Zac B. Sarian

Jose Madriaga, a successful divesified farmer from Tay-ac, Banty, Ilocos Sur has a way of maximizing the use of his land so he can produce more income from a limited space.

He grows vegetables and other high-value crops year-round. These include ampalaya, tomato, cucumber, okra, string beans and others. By using irrigation pumps, especially during the dry months, he is able to produce different valuable crops for sale throughout the year.

RELAY CROPPING – One of his techniques to maximize his harvest from his farm is relay cropping. This is done by planting a new crop in a field with standing crop so that when the first crop has been harvested, the intercropped variety will take its turn to be productive.

One example is what he has done on his field planted to Red Dragon onion. When the onions were 50 days old, he planted tomato seedlings in appropriate distances in the onion plantation. When the onions will be harvested about 50 or 55 days later, the tomatoes will already be starting to produce ripe fruits. Harvesting could last for 15 to 20 harvests. He has planted a very high-yielding tomato so that even if the price per kilo ex-farm is only R8, it is still profitable for him.

In his previous tomato planting, Madriaga said that harvesting can be done every day in a one-hectare tomato plantation, harvesting from just a portion at a time. In that previous crop, he was able to harvest 2,000 to 4,600 kilos every day. Even at R8 per kilo, the daily gross was substantial. For harvesting 2,000 kilos, he usually spent R1,500 for the harvesters. Aside from the harvest from the tomatoes, Madriaga says that by planting tomatoes between his onion plants, destructive insects are repelled.

In his standing crop of Maserati shallot, Madriaga intercropped yellow corn for livestock feed. At the time of our visit (March 1, 2018), when the onions were 65 days old, the corn plants were already 1 foot tall. Next May, they will already be ready for harvesting.

What is important in order to be able to practice relay cropping is that you have a way to irrigate your plants. Madriaga irrigates his onions every 9 days using a pump either run by electricity or by diesel engine.

Now you see, you can maximize productivity in your farm by practicing relay cropping. Aside from tomato and corn, you can use many other varieties for relay-cropping.

SWEETER FRUITS – A new product that is claimed to make fruits sweeter, improves their color and promotes longer shelf life is now in the Philippines. This is called Sweet Biostimulant, a product that consists of plant extracts manufactured by Valagro, a top biostimulant manufacturer in Italy.

Sweet Bio, for short, is a liquid that is mixed with water and then sprayed on the leaves and fruits. In papaya, for instance, 50 to 100 ml (2 to 4 caps of the container) is mixed with water in a 16-liter knapsack sprayer. It is first sprayed on the fruits and leaves about 13 days from harvest. This is followed by another spraying 7 days from harvest.To treat the succeeding fruits on the tree, spraying is done every 15 days.

Aside from papaya, Sweet Bio can be sprayed on mango, lanzones, Abiu, dragon fruit, grapes, imported makopa, watermelon, honeydew melon and other fruits with thin rind.

Aside from fruits, Sweet Bio can also improve the quality of flowers. When sprayed on flowering plants, the flowers become more intense in color with longer keeping quality.

Sweet Bio is distributed by Zetryl Chem Philippines. For more information, call Harold Hazel Larete, assistant general manager, at 0917-816-1909 or Bien Magcalas, senior marketing executive, at 0917-509-0695. It is available in one-liter pack.