2019 News Story Regional Veggie farmers learn ways to mitigate frost

Veggie farmers learn ways to mitigate frost

Headlines, 2-3-2019


BENGUET – For decades, andap or the local term for early morning frost has been occurring in the coldest parts of the province. 

This has led farmers in this vegetable-producing province to adapt to this natural occurrence through the years. 

Benguet Provincial Agriculturist Lolita Bentres said as of the moment, the office has not received any report of damage due to frost from the municipalities, particularly Atok, Kibungan, Mankayan, and Kabayan. 

“It’s not an alarming problem. We have set out our respective municipal agriculturists to monitor the occurrence of frost,” Bentres said. 

She said frost does not only occur in Sitio Englandad, Barangay Paoay, Atok but also in Madaymen, Kibungan, in Sitio Cada, Barangay Balili, Mankayan, and in the areas near Mt. Pulag in Kabayan.

These are usually the areas where there is less circulation of air, which causes the occurrence of frost, she said. 

Frost is defined as thin layer of ice on a solid surface, which forms from water vapor in an above freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing point. 

Frost occurs early in the morning, usually from 4 to 6 a.m.

Paoay Punong Barangay Leo Cawaing said farmers in their area would minimize their production during the usual occurrences of frost, which is observed during December and early part January to prevent damages.

But there are farmers who still plant temperate vegetables hoping their crops would survive the frost. Carrot has been found to be a frost-resistant crop.

To combat frost, farmers would use their sprinklers to spray off the frost from their crops before the sun hits the farms. 

Paoay kagawad Crizaldo Bacbac said farmers also choose the kind of crops to plant as frost affects mostly potato leaves as they easily wither and get burned. Aside from potatoes, Chinese cabbage (wongbok), and cabbage are not resistant to frost.

Although farmers have adapted to the frost incidences, the changing weather patterns brought by climate change is still heavily felt, as they do not know when the frost will hit.

Farmer Joseph Edwas of Mankayan said it has been their practice to plant ahead before the occurrence of frost so that when it comes, the crops are already mature and ready for harvest. 

“However, nowadays one cannot predict when it will hit. You see it is now February and it is still occurring,” he said, adding that the frost occurrence would happen in different portions of Cada making it hard to predict the specific areas it would occur in. 

This is why weather forecasts and research are very much needed to help farmers be ready, according to Benguet Agri-Pinoy Trading Center Manager Violeta Salda. 

Salda, who also leads the Benguet State University Food Science Research and Innovation Center, said the locality still has a long way to go when it comes to properly using science technology and research in farming. 

She cited weather forecasting could help farmers to prepare the kind of vegetables to plant or when is the best time to plant them. 

“With the scientific researches we have, it could be used to pre-empt the kind of interventions we could give to our farmers,” she said. 

Bacbac said the Department of Science and Technology-Pagasa recently installed a temperature gauge in Atok. 

While Baguio’s temperature dipped to 9 degrees Celsius last week, Atok’s temperature could only be estimated to be around 5 °C due to the lack of equipment to measure the exact temperature in a particular area. 

Despite these, local officials assured the public of enough supply of vegetables.

“Consumers need not worry because there is enough supply of vegetables and even cut flowers in time for Valentines,” Bentres said.