Attending field days is always rewarding, educational and enjoyable. Just like our visit to the experimental farm of Allied Botanical Corporation in Tayug, Pangasinan during their field day on February 21.
The many varieties of vegetables and other high-value crops were most impressive. Take their new okra selection which promises to become a bestseller among farmers. They call it Five-Finger Okra because its leaves are deeply divided into five segments. It is very prolific and the fruits are prominently visible. This is one big advantage, especially for harvesters.The fruits are easy to locate and harvest.
The Five-Finger variety was planted beside a variety with big entire leaves for contrast. The fruits of the variety with big leaves are hidden under the leaves so that harvesters will have a hard time locating the harvestable fruits.
Another advantage of the Five-Finger is that there is less leaf space to spray in case spraying pesticide is necessary. There is also less room under the leaves for the destructive insects to hide.
Five-Finger is an open-pollinated selection so that the farmers can plant the seeds they harvest from their farm. No other commercial seed producer could produce the seeds for sale because it is being registered for IPR protection.
Another interesting variety that interested us is the bush sitao that produces long pods. It is very prolific and one will not have to spend for trellis to grow this.
We also found out that Allied is now going to multiply the finger pepper from the Ilocos that is not pungent. It is one variety that is not only used in cooking pinakbet, it is also great for cooking it adobo style – with just garlic, vinegar, bagnet and salt to taste.
We were also impressed by the very fruitful sitao varieties developed by Allied Botanical. The latest is the 4-Star which is early maturing and very prolific. It usually produces 3 to 4 dark green pods per peduncle, each pod averaging 60 cm long.
Another outstanding sitao is called Tristar because each peduncle produces 2 to 3 pods. Considered heavy weight in its class is the Negrostar sitao. It produces a high concentration of pods per plant. The pods are dark green with a unique purple tip. The other varieties are the Maranaw and Green Star.
We also learned that Allied Botanical has three sweet corn varieties that are highly suitable for canning. These are the Bighani, Dabyana and Higante. These have a high kernel recovery of 70 percent, according to Michael Castillo, the company’s food processing expert.
Promoting the canning of sweet corn is now an advocacy of Allied Botanical. As Willy Co, the company owner observes, the Philippines should can more sweet corn. Many farmers have already mastered the production of sweet corn yet the country is still importing a lot of canned sweet corn from Thailand.