Researchers from the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) have developed six new high yielding white corn varieties resistant to stalk rot and ear rot diseases.
Stalk rot and ear rot are the most serious and widespread corn diseases that can cause severe crop damage and yield losses to farmers. Stalk rot, manifested by premature plant death and plant lodging, is caused by two species, Stenocarpella and Pectobacterium. Ear rot is characterized by the appearance of salmon pink to reddish-brown discoloration on the caps of individual kernels and is caused by Fusarium species.
USM Professors and plant breeders, namely, Fabiola Alejandro, Efren Magulama, Milagros Malinao, and Dr. Naomi Tangonan, reported that there is no effective control yet (pesticide/fungicide) for stalk rot and ear rot. However, they pointed out that breeding strategies, such as combined plant genetic resistance with high yielding trait, could be a logical approach for achieving long-term control of these major diseases. Thus, the study, “High Yielding White Maize Varieties Resistant to Bacterial Stalk Rot and Fusarium Ear Rot“, was conducted. This aimed to develop high yielding white maize varieties resistant to bacterial stalk rot and Fusarium ear rot.
In the research project, the researchers diligently screened thousands of corn germplasm materials to identify genetic materials with resistance to the Bacterial Stalk Rot (BSR) and Fusarium Ear Rot (FER) diseases and to be used in the development of the desired corn varieties.
After four years of rigorous breeding works, six new maize varieties were developed – three composite varieties (USM Var 16, 18, 28), two synthetic varieties (USM Var 24, 26), and one hybrid variety (USM Var 30h). These varieties are already passed the evaluation and approved for commercial release by the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC).
Researchers say that the use of these new varieties is a more reliable, economical, effective, and environment-friendly disease control measure for bacterial stalk rot and Fusarium ear rot diseases. It was therefore recommended that these varieties be promoted and disseminated to all maize growers in the country.
A paper entry based on this research won as second best paper (research category) in the 2009 National Symposium on Agricultural Resources Research and Development (NSARRD). The NSARRD is an annual activity of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) that aims to recognize the significant contributions of individuals and institutions in the agriculture, forestry and natural resources sectors.
The project was funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) under the leadership of Dr. Nicomedes P. Eleazar through its research and development grant program which is aimed at addressing the current needs and problems of agriculture and fisheries sectors.