Plant early to beat El Nino, tobacco farmers told

LAOAG CITY, August 12 – Farmers in the Ilocos region were asked to plant tobacco ahead of the usual cropping season to reduce the impact of the emerging dry spell that is expected to occur beginning September.
The National Tobacco Administration said the usual transplanting season of Virginia tobacco in the Ilocos starts early November.

NTA Administrator Edgardo D. Zaragoza said early tobacco planting topped the list of solutions raised during a recent dialogue with farmers and private sectors to address the problem that may arise from the El Niño Phenomenon.

Other measures include delineation of areas to evaluate availability of water for irrigation, determine types of tobacco to be planted and continuous consultation with farmers in tobacco-growing provinces.

Zaragoza said calendars detailing specific farm activity dates will be issued to farmers.

“If our farmers want to make sure of a higher percentage of survival and high-quality yield, they should stick to the calendar,” he said.

For Virginia tobacco, farmers are encouraged to start sowing seeds as early as first week of September in time for transplanting by mid-October. For Burley, sowing of seeds should start by third week of September.

Roberto Bonoan, NTA technical coordinator for branch offices, said Virginia tobacco is expected to be harvested two and half months after transplanting or before the dry spell is at its peak by early part of 2015.

“Most tobacco farmers are also planting rice during the rainy season, but we encourage them to prepare also for the tobacco season to avoid delays of sowing,” Bonoan said. (FREDDIE G. LAZARO)