Development and evaluation of methods to reduce rat damage to coconut in the Philippines
Based on findings from studies conducted in the Philippines over a span of almost a decade, primarily by scientists at the Philippine National Crop Protection Center, crown-baiting (wherein bait containing anticoagulant is placed monthly in the crowns of some palms in a coconut plantation), holds the potential of providing highly economical protection from rat damage. The success of the method in various field trials appeared related, in part, to selective removal of rodents that feed in the palms and to the use of baits that were preferred over growing nuts. Studies have also indicated that only 10% or less of the trees may have to be baited for effective control, although additional field trials are needed to confirm the optimal levels of treatment for different coconut-growing regions in the Philippines. Based on findings from the studies, fallen, rat-damaged nuts may represent only a small portion of the damage that rats inflict on coconut palms in the Philippines.