By Zac B. Sarian
FILLED TO THE TIP – George Edrada tells Ana de Grano of Ramgo Seeds that he likes to plant the Violeta waxy corn, a bicolor variety, because of its excellent eating quality as well as the fact that the ear is fully filled with kernels up to the tip. Violeta is a relatively new variety that is becoming popular with farmers because the consumers love it as boiled corn. Edrada staggers his planting of the waxy corn in Brgy. Cauplasan, Sta. Maria, Pangasinan.
IN LOVE WITH VIOLETA – Jorge “George” Edrada, 44, is a former OFW who worked for four years in Saudi Arabia. After he returned to the Philippines in 2000, he became a full-time farmer in Brgy. Cauplasan, Sta. Maria, Pangasinan planting rice and green corn for boiling. He used to plant the white waxy corn but switched to the bicolor Violeta (in photo) which has its own advantages.
READY FOR EATING – Photo shows boiled Violeta waxy corn ready for eating. It is soft and sweet, very desirable. One more advantage is that the harvested ears don’t deteriorate fast. Unhusked ears may remain fresh for as long as five days, according to George Edrada.
NOT TOO TALL – Violeta, a bicolor waxy corn, is not as tall as most corn varieties. This is an advantage because being short, it is not easily blown down by strong winds. Although short in stature, it produces big ears. When grown during the dry months and it is irrigated, it produces big ears, according to George Edrada. Five pieces may weigh two kilos.
THE GOOD POINTS OF VIOLETA – Ana de Grano, an agriculture specialist of Ramgo Seeds, explains before attendees of the harvest festival the advantages of the recently introduced Violeta waxy corn. First of all, it has an excellent eating quality. It is soft and sweet. The ears are fully filled with kernels up to the tip. The plants are not too tall which is an advantage because it is not easily toppled by strong winds.
VIOLETA HARVEST FESTIVAL – Farmers, men and women, attended the harvest festival featuring the new Violeta waxy corn planted by George Edrada in Cauplasan, Sta. Maria, Pangasinan. The farmers listened to lectures by Hasem Agauna and Ana de Grano of Ramgo Seeds, highlighting the advantages of planting the bicolor waxy corn. The variety can be grown both in the wet and dry seasons. What George Edrada does is to stagger his planting, each time planting only five thousand square meters. This way, he gets virtually continuous income from corn throughout the year.
Jorge “George” Edrada, 44, used to work for a construction company in Saudia Arabia. After his overseas employment ended after four years, he decided to return to the Philippines to become a full-time farmer. He has now realized that farming, after all, can provide a better income than working abroad.
In the beginning, he tried planting eggplant and other vegetables after rice but that did not suit his liking for long. What he found more profitable is to grow green corn for boiling throughout the year, and one crop of rice for home consumption.
Green corn for boiling has its own advantages over other crops. It is saleable and it can be grown throughout the year. The turnover is also fast. What he has been doing is to plant corn on 5,000-square meters on a staggered basis. This way, the cash flow is more or less continuous throughout the year.
He used to plant the white waxy corn which was also a good source of income. However, when the new bicolor varieties were introduced, he discovered that this multi-colored waxy corn is even better. The traders who go around to buy the farmers’ harvest now prefer to buy the bicolor corn. It is claimed that the purple coloration of some of the kernels is good for the health because they contain more antioxidants.
The Violeta waxy corn can be harvested in 65 to 70 days after planting. In that 5,000 square meters that George plants every week, he can make a profit of at least P40,000. He limits his planting to that size because it is very manageable. The market can easily absorb that quantity. When there is excess supply, the buyers could bring down the price offered.
George observes that boiled corn is most in demand in the provinces during special occasions. One such occasion is All Saints’ Day when people from the city go home to the province. These returning city folks love to eat boiled corn, according to George. During this time, harvesting of the waxy corn starts as early as October 28.
Another occasion, as expected, is the Christmas holidays. It is also this time that many people from the city go back to the province for vacation and they love to eat boiled corn. Summer is also a good time for selling boiled corn because the students from the cities go back to the province.
While waxy corn can be grown throughout the year, the best crop is often made during the summer months as long as the field is irrigated. This could by pumping water from shallow tubewells or from other sources of water like rivers, ponds or creeks.
The usual practice of selling is by the ear. Today, the practice of selling by the kilo is getting popular and that is considered a better system because one gets paid by the actual weight rather than by the number of ears. When waxy corn is in demand the ex-farm price is usually P18 per kilo. On the other hand, many traders offer mostly P2.80 to P3 per ear ex-farm which is not as good as when selling is by the kilo.
There are actually a few varieties of bicolor waxy corn offered by a number of seed companies. Ramgo Seeds, however, claim that their variety is the most preferred.
Ramgo, by the way, is about the oldest seed company in the Philippines that specializes in lowland as well as highland vegetables and other high-value crops. It will be observing its 50th anniversary in 2017 and a big celebration is being planned to be held in its experimental farm in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija.
One of its special crops is onion. Its latest introduction is the Red Dragon which is proving to be another bestseller. Farmers who have tried the variety in Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan and Mindoro are all praises for the new variety. It is claimed to be high-yxases.