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Published by the SRA-La Granja Agricultural Research and Extension Center La Granja, La Carlota City Negros Occidental, Philippines ? 0973-222-810
Vol. 2 No. 7 October 1998

SRA-LGAREC

RAT CONTROL IN SUGARCANE


Rodents have been a major economic problem in sugarcane production in the Philippines. Besides causing direct damage to the crop, they cause secondary losses due to infestation, like fallen cane stalks, fermentation and subsequent loss in sucrose content of the canes. These rodents damage sugarcane by chewing out portions of the stalk internodes when canes are about 7 months old. The trend of damage was observed to increase as the cane matures and most especially when it lodges. Studies showed that rats in Negros Island inflict stalk damage from 6 to 7 percent that is equivalent to 2.3 percent total sugar loss. A recent survey on rat damage in different field locations of the La Carlota Mill District (Rosales et al., 1995) showed an average total sugar loss of 0.21Lkg/ha amounting to about P2,186,783.46 districtwide. Different practices and methods were singly done to control this menace. However, it was observed that in order to effectively control rats, an integration of all possible and practical ways is necessary. The following are the general approaches in the conduct of the rat control program: 1. Sanitation- to prevent early and frequent migration of field rats and to reduce their present number in the field, sanitation like weeding and clearing of stubbles must be done. A clean and weed-free field offers limited food sources and cover, thus reduces attractiveness of habitat. 2. Physical Method -digging and excavation of burrows would deprive rats of breeding places in the cane field and also prevent their re-use. Burning can also be employed using the blanket system. In this method, the infested field is harvested on all sides going to the center. This portion (the remaining center) is then burned while being surrounded by workers and rats that escape from the burning field are then clubbed to death. 3. Use of Less Preferred Varieties- It was found out that canes that have a softer rind, high in sucrose content, and prone to lodging are very much preferred by rats. Varieties such as Phil 7779, Phil 56226 and Phil 6607, having one or all of these characteristics should not be used in areas with a prevalent rodent infestation. Locally bred high yielding varieties (HYV's) Phil 6lll, Phil 6723, Phil 8013 and other newer fast growing and erect varieties have been observed from naught to less preferred by rats. 4. Proper Cultivation -- deep tillage in plant cane and off-barring in ratoon should be properly practiced to minimize lodging. Rat injury is higher on lodged canes. 5. Use of Rodenticides - The chemical materials currently used in control programs may be conveniently classified into (a) acute toxicants (quick acting, the animal dying soon after it has ingested the poison. ex. Zinc Phosphide); and, (b) chronic

toxicants or anti-coagulants -are powders that are mixed with appropriate bait materials and are slow-acting which usually takes 3-5 feedings before the rat dies. There are anti-coagulants in waxblocks or pellet forms with a fast acting effect and requires lesser number of feedings. These are called 2nd generation anticoagulants. How to apply rodenticides in the fields: Acute Toxicants- are used only when the rat population is very high which poses an extreme danger of crop damage or disease. Baiting with the use of this chemical must be done simultaneously in the whole area affected. Due to its highly toxic nature, acquisition and application of this chemical must be supervised by trained personnel or agriculturist from local government units. Chronic Toxicants (used either as a follow-up of acute toxicant application or as maintenance and control in the usual rat populations.) ? ? Start applying baits 7 months after planting or even earlier if there is damage observed. ? ? Mix the right proportions of bait (usually commercial feeds) and poison. ? ? Place in ago-go plastic wrappers at 5-10 grams. ? ? Distribute them inside the field at the base of the stalks at about 5 m. from the field border with a distance of 5-10 meters between baits. ? ? Increase or decrease number of baits based on observed consumption. ? ? Application is done every 15 days or bi-monthly from 7-11 months. This mode of application was observed to control the resident rat population and prevent the entry of invading rat populations. ? ? wax blocks are distributed in the field in the same manner minus the mixing and the wrapping. 6. Education and Training - training of personnel in the safe and effective rodent control technologies and the use of rodenticides should be encouraged. SRA OPSI includes rodent control as s one of its topics. 7. Monitoring - monitor the progress of the control program to check the efficacy of the control measures adapted, that is, if the poison bait applied is enough or if the bait material needs to be replaced, etc. These things including the present rodent damage of a farm must be regularly checked and recorded./glr Sources: SRA-LGAR EC SUGARCANE Bulletin Vol.1No.1. SRA-OPSI Handbook 1997. Revised Edition.