The South African Litchi Growers’ Association (SALGA) is looking for suitable, high quality litchi cultivars to extend the short harvesting period. During the past two decades, the importation of litchi genetic material into South Africa was very limited. Furthermore, unreliable sources sometimes lead to confusion with names and origin of importations.
With doors to the eastern world now opening for the South African litchi industry, more specifically to China, a new era for litchis is currently unfolding. A vast amount of information on cultivars recently became available from the Chinese industry, where cultivation of the litchi, indigenous to the country, stretches over hundreds of years. During recent
visits of delegates of both the Agricultural Research Council – Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) and the industry to countries such as China, Australia and Israel, relationships were established that will greatly benefit the local litchi industry in years to come. These relationships opened the door to some of the best cultivars currently available in the world.
The new cultivars will, apart from expanding the current limited range of commercial cultivars in the local industry, also enable litchi researchers to utilise some of the best litchi genetics to fast forward the local breeding programme.