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Thursday, April 05, 2001

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New variety for organic farming

By Our Agriculture Correspondent

A SUPER fine rice variety ``J-18'' developed at the ``J-Farm'', 35 km from Chennai has done exceedingly well in farmers' holdings in Kancheepuram district, and it has proved to be a highly profitable rice variety. ``It has done exceedingly well under rich organic nutrition, and the plant protection expenses are also minimal. With least investment farmers can hope to get good dividends from this variety'' says Mr. S. Balasubramanian, a progressive farmer and owner of ``Gemini Farm'' in Padappai near Chennai.

``We harvested 2657 kg paddy from 0.6 hectare (4427 kg per hectare) of ``J-18`` in about 175 days. The tall variety growing to about 185 cm yielded plenty of straw for the animals.

The straw reaped from this area was equivalent to the quantity of straw got from 2.4 hectares of White Ponni,'' explains Mr. Balasubramanian. The variety grew well only on organic manure and green manure, according to him. Only once he sprayed a neem compound to ward off leaf munching caterpillars.

The variety is highly prone to lodging due to excessive manuring and wind. However, if the crop lodges after the grain formation, the panicles will be well filled and heavy. In a panicle as many as 370 well filled grains has been recorded in ``Gemini Farm''. The total cost of cultivation worked out to Rs. 9,000 for 0.6 hectare. The yield of straw was worth Rs. 3,500. The fine variety will fetch a premium price in the market, and it certainly will leave a good profit for the growers, according to Balasubramanian. ``We followed the entire package of practices recommended by ``J-Farm'' to get this good results,'' he points out.

``We have developed ``J-18'' from the high quality long-duration rice ``Wag-Wag'' from the Philippines. It responds well to ecological farming practices, and we have developed a package of practices for raising this variety to get high returns,'' says S.S.Nagarajan, Senior Vice President (Agricultural Research), ``J-Farm'', who developed this promising variety. He has also suggested useful tips for preventing the lodging and making this crop stand erect for easy harvesting using combine- harvester``If the nursery is raised during late September, the transplanted crop will bear the brunt of north-east monsoon and the heavy cyclonic wind during November-December in coastal Tamil Nadu. During this period, the crop will still be young, probably in tillering stage, and at this phase of development, the plants will not be affected by wind and rain. Summer season and rain- free days following the monsoon will be highly beneficial for excellent grain filling,'' explains Nagarajan.

However, in areas where there is no northeast monsoon, sowing can be done as early as June and August.

Some enterprising farmers in the State have earned good profit by growing this variety. One graduate-farmer, Jayachandran of Thirumazhisai has earned a net profit of Rs. 15,943 per hectare by growing ``J-18'', according to Nagarajan. ``This resourceful farmer selected this variety based on several considerations, and followed our package of cultural practices. With fewer inputs and least expenses, he reaped about 3322 kg paddy per hectare. The variety had a high milling recovery, and he sold the rice at a premium price of Rs. 1100 per bag of 75 kg. It ensured a handsome returns to him,'' he explains.

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