The first rice varieties tolerant to high temperature are now available to Filipino farmers.
The new varieties have passed the Multi-Environment Rice Varietal Testing (MET) of the Department of Agriculture and have been approved and registered by the National Seed Industry Council (NSIC) for commercialization.
They are officially registered as NSIC Rc 600 and Rc 602.
The MET evaluates promising varieties in different farmers fields nationwide. The NCT tests varieties with the desired characteristics and recommends them to the NSIC before they are released as commercial varieties for farmers to plant.
The heat-tolerant varieties have been screened, evaluated and selected in Cagayan and Nueva Ecija where temperatures can reach up to 38 degrees Celsius to 40°C.
Due to climate change, air temperature is continuously rising. Breeding lines were planted in staggered manner so that flowering will coincide with the hottest period of the year, which is between April and May.
Dr. Norvie Manigbas and Dr. Nenita Desamero of the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are the lead breeders behind the development of NSIC Rc 600 and Rc 602, respectively.
The heat-tolerant varieties are products of 10 years of breeding.
At PhilRice, potential temperature-tolerant varieties have yield range of 5.5 tons per hectare to 8.8 t/ha under high temperature condition and spikelet fertility of 60 percent to 85.7 percent.
Rice breeders are researching and developing high-yielding varieties that tolerate a rise in temperature anywhere from 2.5°C to 3°C or even higher than it is today.
The temperature rise is traced mostly to the increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.