Pg. 13-17 Status of the ARC-Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops’ Litchi Improvement Programme, as well as the commercialisation process for new cultivars

For many years only two cultivars formed the basis of the South African commercial litchi industry, namely ‘HLH Mauritius’ (Tai So) and ‘McLean’s Red’. The traditional harvest period of South African litchis coincides with the harvest times of countries such as Mauritius, Madagascar, Reunion and Australia, resulting in competition effects. Since 2002, based on results obtained from the Agricultural Research Council-Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops’ (ARC-ITSC) litchi evaluation project, ‘Third Month Red’ (TMR) and ‘Wai Chee’ are recommended for extending the early and late season markets respectively. Litchi improvement in South Africa aims to extend the harvesting period even more and at the same time deliver a cultivar of improved quality. 

The South African ARC’s Litchi Improvement Programme is based on four phases, these being (1) breeding and selection, (2) description and registration, (3) climatic adaptability assessment and (4) commercialisation. This paper gives a description of the current status of this programme and the commercialisation process of new cultivars.

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