Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is a high quality sweet fruit with a juicy texture. The translucent, flavorful aril or edible flesh of lychee is preferred as a table fruit in India, while in China and Japan, lychee is enjoyed in its dried or canned form.
Lychee originates from southern China, particularly the provinces of Kwangtung and Fukien. Due to soil, environmental requirements and the limited lifespan of lychee seeds, its spread to other parts of the world has been relatively slow. In the 18th century, lychee reached India through Myanmar and the Northeast region.
Area and Production
After China, India is the world’s second largest litchi producer. Thailand, Australia, South Africa, Madagascar and Florida in the United States are other important producing countries.
In terms of area and production among fruit crops, lychee is sixth in India but seventh in value. The achievable yield of the crop under well-managed conditions is significantly higher than the national average productivity of lychee, which is 6.1 t/ha. In West Bengal, litchi productivity is 10.5 tons/ha, compared to 8.0 tons/ha in Bihar. In other states productivity is much lower, the lowest production at 1.0 t/ha in Uttarakhand.
Lychee’s sugar content, which varies from variety to variety, is what gives it its greatest nutritional value. In addition to being rich in protein (0.7%), lipids (0.3%), carbohydrates (9.4%), minerals (0.7%), fiber (2.25%), calcium (0 .21%), phosphorus (0.31%), iron (0.03%) and carotene, the fruit is also rich in vitamins B1, riboflavin and C. Lychee is a fruit that can be canned very well . Lychee fruit is also used to make an extremely tasty squash that is eaten in the summer. Other products created from lychee include pickles, preserves, and wine in China. The Chinese love dried lychee, often called lychee nuts.
The area has been completely leveled and stripped of all vegetation. After that, the area is plowed with a disc plow and a harrow. The development of lychee plants is negatively impacted by hot, drying breezes in summer and cold, brisk winds in winter. Therefore, a proper wind barrier should be planted at the edge of the orchard and it should be perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction for the proper development of a lychee plantation. Mango, jamun, eucalyptus, arjun and other large trees are suitable for this purpose.
The air layering approach is used to market lychee. The process of seed propagation is rare and takes a long time to establish the tree. Choose pest and disease free branches 2-3cm in diameter and 30-60cm long for air layering. Use a sharp knife to cut out the 4cm wide ring of bark. Put wet moss on the exposed area, then wrap it tightly with a polythene sheet. After 4 weeks root growth will begin. Detach the “Gootee” from the mother tree once a significant number of roots have grown. then put it right away in a nursery. After that, water it. Air layering is possible from mid-July to the end of September.
State Wise Litchi Varieties
Bihar and Jharkhand: China, Deshi, Purbi, Early and Late Bedana, Mclean, Swarna Rupa, Shahi, Kasba
Orissa: Muzaffarpur, Bombai, China
Punjab and Haryana: early seedless, late seedless, seedless-1, seedless-2
Uttarakhand: Fragrant Rose, Calcuttia, Early and Late Seedless
Uttar Pradesh: Early Seedless, Late Seedless, Early Big Red, Late Big Red, Calcutta, Rose Scented, Dehradun
West Bengal: Muzaffarpur, China, Deshi, Purbi, Elachi Early, Elachi Late, Bombai, Goothi, Bedana, Potee, Kalyani Selection
Harvest and yield
Generally, the harvest takes place in May and June. The flatness of the tubers and the relative softness of the epicarp are used to determine the ripeness of the fruit. Also, when a fruit matures, its color changes from green to pink. In addition to a piece of branch and a few leaves, the fruits are harvested in clusters. This helps improve the fruit’s ability to retain quality while giving the tree a light pruning.
In the case of plants produced by air layering, fruiting begins between 5 and 6 years. In most commercial cultivars from India, it takes 70–100 days after flowering for the fruits to ripen. The annual fruit production of a lychee varies from 40 to 100 kg, depending on the type, location, season, nutrition and age.
First published on: 06 July 2022, 05:45 IST