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El Niño unlikely in Bicol this year, assures DA

PILI, CAMARINES SURRainfall condition in Bicol for the rest of summer will be above normal, rendering low the possibility of an El Niño phenomenon drying up farms in the region during the season, according to the regional office here of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

El Niño
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
In its Seasonal Climate Outlook and Advisory (SCOA) from April to June, DA said that easterly wind, trough of low pressure areas, tail end of cold front and inter-tropical convergence zone are the dominant weather systems to affect the region during the period.

SCOA is a special project of the DA that intends to keep agricultural stakeholders in the region guided on the seasonal weather situation for more productivity.

The forecast May climate condition is in contrast with that of April, which registered below-normal rainfall average in the region, except in Masbate where way below normal condition prevailed while it is normal in Camarines Norte.

April’s low rainfall and increased temperature reduced crop yield, specifically in rain-fed and irrigated areas at the tail end of canals, Abelardo Bragas, the DA regional executive director on Thursday, said.

It also caused heat stress to livestock and poultry production, Bragas noted.

Reduced rainfall in April, however, favored harvesting as well as post-harvest processing of rice and corn but reduced yield on vegetables crops.

Meanwhile, pasture areas for small and large ruminants were also affected by dry days, specifically in the province of Masbate, the region’s cattle industry capital.

Under the climate outlook, which was based on the forecast issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geosciences and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) for March to August 2014, DA is advising farmers in the region to plant early in May and June to be able to harvest before the typhoon season that usually occurs in September to November.

“Farmers should take advantage of the high moisture availability during these months,” Bragas advised.

PAGASA’s forecast rainfall analysis for May, he said, is at an average of 137 percent for the six provinces of Bicol with Camarines Norte getting the highest at 152.3 percent above the 100-percent normal condition and Catanduanes, the lowest at 124.3 percent.

Rainfall in Camarines Sur in the same month will be at 139.7 percent over the normal condition while Masbate, Albay and Sorsogon will have 143.5, 132.9 and 129.5 percent, respectively, according to PAGASA’s forecast.

Way above normal rainfall, Bragas warned, might cause a prevalence of chronic respiratory or bacteria diseases in poultry, hemorrhagic septicemia in large and small ruminants and pneumonia and diarrhea for swine.

In June, however, rainfall condition will be lower, reaching at a regional average of 95.8 percent against normal, with Camarines Norte still getting the highest at 110.4 percent and Masbate, the lowest, at 51.8 percent, the same forecast says.

This lowering in June of rainfall condition gives way to an increasing change (up to 50 percent) in the development of El Niño between July and September based on PAGASA’s El Niño/Southern Oscillation monitoring through its Climatology and Agrometeorology Branch.

It is under this situation that farmers should practice alternate wet and drying method in areas that could be affected by low rainfall condition to maximize the utilization of irrigation water, Bragas said.

They should also use early-maturing or drought-tolerant varieties or plant legumes like cowpea, winged bean, mung bean, watermelon, okra, squash and other crops that can tolerate below-normal rainfall and high temperature.

Fallow period must be practiced, if possible, in areas where the source of water for irrigation is difficult to rejuvenate the soil, Bragas said.

Vegetables growers, he said, should use mulch to conserve soil moisture and adopt Integrated Pest Management approach to control pest and disease infestation while livestock raisers must practice silage making to feed ruminants and provide enough drinking water during the dry months.

Animals should also be vaccinated to prevent disease occurrence, Bragas added.PNA

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