Agri Plain Talk: Air-dried versus Sun-dried corn
By ZAC B. SARIAN
One simple technique that could add more weight to our corn harvest is to air-dry the husked ears rather than drying the kernels in the sun.
This is what Virginia de Guzman has found in her own experiment. De Guzman is the provincial agriculturist of Salvador town in Lanao del Norte. At the recent agri-fair in conjunction with the 50th anniversary celebration of Lanao del Norte, she showcased her technology.
In her experiment, she has found that grains of air-dried husked corn ears are heavier by three percent than the kernels dried in the sun to about 14 percent moisture content. Besides being heavier, she said that the air-dried corn grains have a longer storage life.
What gave her the idea to conduct the experiment on drying corn? Well, although she has been the municipal agriculturist of Salvador for 17 years, her college training is actually as a marine biologist.
In fact, she was responsible for starting and developing the seaweed industry in the town of Kolambugan, also in Lanao del Norte. Today Kolambugan is a major producer of seaweeds. She said that they had long found that when the seaweeds are air-dried, they are heavier than those sun-dried. So she thought of finding out if that would also work in drying corn. And she found that the technique does work.
A three-percent increase in weight may not look much when small quantities are involved, but when it comes to thousands of tons, the increase in weight would be substantial. De Guzman said that the town of Salvador is a major corn producer. No less than 6,000 hectares are devoted to corn which are planted three times a year. The wet season crop is planted late May to June, the “palagad” from late September to October, and the dry season crop planted in February.
The farmers plant mostly hybrid corn seeds so that the average yield per hectare is 6 to 7 tons. The corn harvests are bought by traders from Cebu, Negros, Cagayan de Oro and others. The current buying price is R11.50 per kilo ex-farm, according to De Guzman. The farmers also plant white corn which fetches R13 per kilo with 14 percent moisture content. The problem is that there are no big feedmills in Lanao del Norte that is why most of the grains are sold to traders outside of the province.
Many of the corn farmers have small landholdings. But there is one fellow who is planting corn on 2,000 hectares of mostly rented farms. He is Sultan Johny Tawan-tawan.
Aside from corn, Salvador farmers also produce rice on 2,605 hectares, most of which are planted two times a year. Most of the rice farms yield about 100 cavans per hectare.