Pg. 7-11 New High Potential Litchi Hybrids Developed by the ARC-ITSC

Despite a history of more than a century in South Africa, the choice of commercial cultivars available to the Litchi Industry was until recently limited to only two cultivars, namely HLH Mauritius and McLean’s Red. A variety of cultivars have been imported over the years, but early observations indicated poor adaptability to South African conditions. Evaluation was, however, only carried out in one location at the ITSC in Nelspruit. A cultivar evaluation project was therefore initiated in 1992 to evaluate existing and newly imported cultivars under a range of environments. 

A breeding programme, supplementary to the cultivar evaluation project, was initiated soon afterwards in 1993 to breed new, adapted cultivars for South African conditions. The breeding programme is based on seedlings resulting from cross-, open and self pollinated flowers of different cultivars and selections. The seedlings are established in evaluation blocks where they are screened for a variety of production characteristics. 

The first bearing seedlings demonstrated that considerable genetic diversity could be achieved through sexual reproduction. Several promising selections have been identified for further horticultural evaluation. To speed up the evaluation process, limited quantities of the best selections available will be released to growers for semi-commercial
evaluation. This paper deals with the performance of the first bearing seedlings and a discussion of the most promising selections.

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