Lychee is one of the most important subtropical fruit tree & famous for its excellent quality, pleasant aroma juicy pulp (aril) with attractive red color. Although lychee is likely very much as table purpose, but dried and canned litchi have also become popular.
Lychee is a rich source of Vitamin C( 40-90mg/ 100 gm) and Calcium 0.21%. It is rich in anthocyanins that give red color to its skin & also contains organic acid in the form of malic acid and its content is 80%. Fruit consists of 60% juice, 19% seed, 13% skin, and 8% rag. Related species of this plant are Rambhutan and Longan.
Table of Contents
Lychee ( Litchi chinensis)
Center of origin: South China
Chromosome number: 2x= 30
Area & Distribution of lychee
It is mainly cultivated in Asian countries having a subtropical climate. China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Nepal are the major litchi producing countries. Out of which China is the first at lychee production in the world followed by India, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. Its production in China is 1,300,000 tonnes and in India it is 430,000 tonnes.
The total area used for cultivation is estimated at around 580,000 hectares in China.
Lychee Cultivation Guide
Lychee tree can grow in wide range of soils but sandy loam to clay loam soils are ideal for its growth. Fairly deep, loamy soil with proper drainage is considered best for its cultivation. Soil pH should range between 5.5 to 7 pH is considered good for litchi cultivation. Waterlogging should be avoided in the field.
Climate & Temperature
Lychee crop grows well in moist climate in subtropical areas. Humidity affects the fruit size and other properties of litchi fruit. This crop is prone to both excessively high and low temperature. It cannot withstand frost. For the growth of the tree, temperature ranging around 30 degrees Celcius is considered good.
At the stage of flowering and fruit development, the temperature should be around 21 degrees Celcius. Wet spring, dry summer, and light winter is good for this tree.
Propagation of Lychee
This plant could be propagated through seeds, but it takes seven to eight years to bear fruits on a litchi tree propagated by seeds. Vegetative propagation in litchi could be done by air layering, approach grafting, and shield budding.
Air layering is the best method of propagation in litchi. It’s quite easy to be practiced and is done on a one-year-old shoot of the plant. For rooting in air layering application of IBA @ 200 ppm is found effective.
Square planting system is adopted for lychee orchard. Pits are constructed of (1 * 1 * 1) m. Spacing of 10 * 10 m is considered normal, spacing less than this requires tree protection against frost and wind.
Application of FYM( Farm Yard Manure) @ 20 to 25 Kg mixed with sulfate or potash 400 gm is recommended before planting. Ring basin method should be adopted in the orchard for better results and efficient use of water. Place the rooted lychee saplings in the soil and cover it.
Irrigate immediately after planting to provide moisture to the root zone.
Training & Pruning
Training and pruning not only gives shape to the tree but also helps to remove the unnecessary branches from the tree. It also helps to maintain the sanitization of the lychee tree. They provide a better framework for the tree to give higher yields. Pruning is responsible for increasing yield and quality of fruits.
Girdling could also be done in September to enhance flowering and fruiting.
At the fruit development stage requirement of water is very critical. Irrigation should be given at this stage to get higher yields. Mulching should be done in the basin with the help of dry leaves. It helps to maintain moisture around the lychee tree.
Water could be applied regularly at an interval of 7 to 10 days after panicle emergence to fruit harvest or until the post-harvest flush appears. Drippers and micro-sprinklers could be used for efficient irrigation.
Lychee fruits are ready to be harvested from May to June. It takes 50 to 60 days to mature completely. Harvest bunch along with the portion of the branch with few leaves.
A normal tree gives yield around 80 to 150 Kg fruits/ tree.