By JAMES TABABA
June marks the beginning of the rainy season in the Philippines, with frequent rain showers and occasional typhoons. Here are some crops that thrive in wet conditions.
Squash (Cucurbita maxima)
Squash, also known as kalabasa, is a popular year-round vegetable in the Philippines. It is a viny, creeping, and trailing crop that can grow over four meters long. It is cultivated for its immature fruits, young shoots, flowers, and seeds.
Squash is a versatile crop that can be grown in both rainy and dry seasons. It thrives best in temperatures ranging from 18°C to 27°C. Squash prefers organic-rich soil with a recommended pH range of 5.6 to 6.5.
For planting one hectare of squash, 2-4 kilos of high-quality seeds are needed. Direct seeding is the recommended method, with 2-5 seeds per hill spaced 2-3 meters apart between rows and 1 meter apart between hills. After emergence, weaker seedlings are removed to allow two healthy ones to grow.
Immature fruits can be harvested for immediate consumption as early as 30-40 days after pollination. For commercial purposes, medium-matured fruits with a light-yellow stripe on the skin are typically harvested.
Pole sitao (Vigna unquiculata subsp. sesquipedales)
Pole sitao, also known as yardlong bean, is a popular crop in many Asian countries, including the Philippines. Its long pods are eaten as whole pods and require light cooking. The plant is not only valued for its pods but also for its young leaves, shoots, and sprouted seedlings, all of which can be consumed as vegetables.
Pole sitao is typically planted in May for the wet season or in October-November for the dry season. It grows best in temperatures between 20-35°C and prefers friable fertile soil with a pH level between 5.5-6.8. Planting methods include the hill method, where 2-3 seeds are sown per hill with 30 cm spacing, or the drill method, with seeds planted at a depth of 2-3 cm and a rate of 15-18 seeds per linear meter.
The recommended fertilizer rate is 135 kg/ha nitrogen, 135 kg/ha phosphorus and 112 kg/ha potassium. Basal fertilization with organic or inorganic fertilizers is necessary, and manure application of 3 tons per hectare is recommended before the first plowing.
Harvesting of young and tender pods should begin within 7-10 days after flowering, with regular harvesting every 2-3 days to maintain plant productivity. Pods should be manually harvested by holding the stem end and twisting them free.
Mungbean (Vigna radiata)
Mungbean, also known as monggo, is a versatile and nutritious crop. It grows quickly and can be harvested within two to three months. Mungbean is a small, round, green bean used in various dishes and desserts.
It can be cultivated during the wet season (May to June), dry season (September to October), and late dry season (February to March). Mungbean thrives in diverse soil types with a pH range of 5.8 to 6.5, especially sandy loam soil. Proper drainage is essential for wet-season planting.
To plant mungbean, create shallow furrows 60 cm apart and sow 20 kg of seeds per hectare. Ensure sufficient soil moisture for even germination. Post-rice cultivation requires field flooding before broadcasting the seeds.
For commercial production, fertilizer application should be based on soil analysis. Without analysis, applying 150 kg of complete fertilizer (14-14-14) per hectare is recommended. Organic fertilizer can also enhance soil conditions and promote organic mungbean production.
Harvesting begins around 60-70 days after planting when mature pods turn from brown to black. Handpick the pods when 75% have dried up, repeating every 3 to 5 days. Sun-dry the pods until fully dry, then separate the seeds from the pods either manually or using a mechanical thresher.
Alugbati (Basella alba, Basella rubra)
Alugbati, also known as Malabar spinach, is a nutritious leafy vegetable widely consumed in the Philippines. Alugbati has different types, including Basella alba with a green stem, Basella rubra with a red stem, and other hybrid varieties.
Alugbati thrives in sandy loam soils with a pH range of 5.5 to 8.0. Adding compost or organic matter to the soil improves its quality. When planting from cuttings, remove the leaves to minimize water loss. Soaking cuttings in water or storing them in a dark, damp area before planting enhances their growth.
Applying compost or manure during plot preparation and side-dressing with compost or manure monthly further improves production.
Alugbati can be harvested as early as 30-45 days after planting. In a one-time harvest, cut the stems close to the ground or uproot the entire plant. Harvesting in the afternoon and storing in a cool, shaded place helps maintain quality.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta)
Cassava is a staple crop in the Philippines, known for its high carbohydrate content and versatile use in traditional dishes and food processing. It thrives when planted at the start of the rainy season. Cassava adapts well to temperatures ranging from 25°C to 29°C and preferred well-drained sandy to clay loam soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
To plant cassava, create furrows one meter apart and place cuttings at distances of .75 to 1 meter between ridges and 0.50 to 0.75 cm between hills. Cover the cuttings with at least 15 cm of soil.
Fertilizer recommendations depend on soil analysis, but a general guideline suggests applying eight sacks of complete (14-14-14) fertilizer per hectare. Apply the fertilizer 2-6 weeks after planting, at a depth of 5-10 cm and 15-20 cm away from the plant.
Cassava is typically harvested 8 to 12 months after planting, indicated by yellowing leaves and hardened tubers. Carefully dig up the tubers with a spading fork, avoiding damage. Clean and store the tubers in a cool, dry place after harvest.
Production guides are available for download on the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Plant Industry website.