Pego growers tackle fungus epidemic that’s not nice for rice

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RICE: Under attack this summer.

PEGO rice-growers are a little happier about their next harvest.

A fungus commonly known as rice blast (pyricularia oryzae) has been practically eradicated now that the growing rice has been sprayed from the air. The product used was an insecticide whose use is permitted by the regional government and the European Union.

Scant rain combined with the consistently high temperatures of recent weeks produced ideal conditions for the fungus to proliferate. Lack of water forced growers to recycle the water used in the rice fields, explained Miguel Puchalt who was in charge of fumigating. “That and the heat allowed the fungus to reproduce,” he said.

He was satisfied with the results, Puchalt added: “We had to intervene because the fungus kills the plants and affects production.”

What worried growers was evidence that the fungus was becoming resistant to officially-approved insecticides, affecting the harvest and overheads. “As time goes by it is harder to get a good final price for our rice,” said Bernardino Ortola.

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