Lychee is a tropical fruit that’s native to China. The fruit grows in India as well. Most of the lychee production area is in North Bihar, comprising Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Samastipur, Begusarai, East and West Champaran, and Bhagalpur districts. Thane (Maharashtra), Saharanpur, Dehradun, Hoogli, Tripura, Assam and Punjab are also some areas where they produce lychee.
Lychee cultivation in certain areas but is low, but now with the development of improved cultivation technologies it is spreading to many other parts of India.
Climate for Lychee
Lychee thrives best in a warm subtropical climate with a moist environment. However, it is prone to both excessively high and low temperatures and cannot withstand frost . The ideal, proper temperature for the growth of the tree is around 30 degrees Celsius, while at the stage of flower and fruit development, temperature around 21 degrees Celsius is ideal.
In terms of soil requirements, lychee can grow in any soil type, but sandy loam to loamy soil are ideal for its growth. Fairly deep, loamy soil with proper drainage is best for its cultivation. The soil pH should range between 5.5 to 7 pH. Avoid any waterlogging in the field for optimal growth.
Lychee seeds are the primary way in which you propagate lychee, but it takes seven to eight years for a lychee tree propagated by seeds to bear fruit. You can propagate lychee by air layering as well, in addition to grafting, and shield budding. Air layering more or less is the best method of propagation in lychee and it requires a one-year-old shoot of the plant. For rooting in air layering, application of IBA @ 200 ppm is effective.
In terms of land preparation, you should be levelling the land thoroughly and clear from any previous crop residue. Plough the land 2 or 3 times with a disc plow and harrow. Or of course, you can use power tillers and levellers mounted on your John Deere 5050d! Windbreakers are ideally present on lychee fields as hot dry summer winds can affect the fruit crop.
Lychee cultivation in India happens in a moist atmosphere. Occasional rainfall, cool dry winter free from frost and hot winds are ideal for its cultivation. In lychee growing areas in India the temperature varies from 21° C to 37.8°C during flowering and fruiting. Flower initiation in lychee requires comparatively low temperature.
During the initial period of establishment, the space between the plants can have in them filler plants or intercrops. The planting of guava, custard apple, lime/lemon in the centre, between and within the rows of lychee can give additional income in the initial stage of planting without competing with the main crop.
Dig the pits 1 meter by 1 meter by 1 meter (depth, width , length) and field with FYM, compost and let to sit for 2 weeks before planting. 15-20 Kg of farm yard manure with 500 grams of Rajphos or single super phosphate is ideal for the pit. Experts recommend that the fym sits in the pit for at least 2 weeks to ensure that all pests and bugs are off the pit and cannot damage the plants. After planting the saplings, ensure that the soil is a bit higher than ground level to prevent water logging. Seeders can help you plant in exact distances and intervals. Mount them on your John Deere 5405 and finish your job with ease.
A distance of 6 Meter by 8 meter is ideal between plants to plants and row to row. Approximately 208 lychee plants can be accommodated in 1 acre of land.
Irrigation is mandatory for good lychee production and plant establishment. Also, Irrigation should be minimal and frequent. The soil should be just damp on each irrigation and not flooded. Frequency of irrigation depends on weather conditions with summer irrigation being more frequent and almost daily. In other seasons the irrigation may be once in 2 to 3 days. Proper irrigation setup is mandatory and drip irrigation is the most recommended. Water should have low salinity levels and salinity over 1000ppm is often bad for lychee plants.
Lychee tree and fruits are susceptible to several algae, fungi and insect pests which damage the fruits and other vegetative parts. Amongst these, fungal diseases cause extensive pre- and post-harvest loss to the fruit quality and yield of the crop and hence considered as the most serious obstacle in lychee fruit production.
Lychee tree is susceptible to various biotic stresses which include algae, fungi, insect pests, etc. These factors often become a hindrance for profitable fruit production. Moreover, post-harvest damage such as pericarp browning and desiccation ultimately declines the commercial value and shelf life of the fruit.
Lychee yields once a year. The maturity of the fruit takes 120-150 days. Harvesting is done manually and when the fruits change color from green to red. Fruits which are partly red or turning to red are picked. Picking every 10-15 days is recommended for lychee.
Post-harvest processing depends on the market itself. The fruits are sold at the best price from late May to end of June. Fruits have a good shelf life of 6-8 weeks if stored in a temperature of 9 degree Celsius. Waxing treatment allows the fruits to stay fresh and reduce moisture loss. Investment in a cold storage unit may allow better profit for large scale farmers but is not feasible for smaller farmers.
While lychee production is well in demand, itis not without its hardships and challenges. Farmers who choose to weather these challenges and come out victors have the fruits of their labour (pun intended). All the instructions here in this blog can help you in having a good and proper harvest leading to impressive profits. Good luck, we’re rooting for you!