The South African litchi industry is predominantly export orientated and great effort is put into gaining high yields and marketable fruit size. In spite of profuse flowering, litchi yield is usually inadequate, mainly because of massive fruitlet drop during the early period of fruit development. Fruit size is often hampered by insufficient irrigation and fertilization during the critical periods of fruit development. Although good research has been done on various aspects of litchi production, this research often does not find its way into farm management.
These challenges in litchi production and technology transfer were the reason for a joined project by the Agricultural
Research Council and a private consultant to adjust an existing software-based production planner for litchis. This production planner should serve as a practical guideline for litchi growers and combines “good agricultural practice” with research results in the area of irrigation, fertilization, use of plant growth regulators as well as other horticultural practices in order to reduce alternate bearing and increase yield and fruit size. The “Litchi Production Planner” includes fertilizer and irrigation scheduling according to tree requirement, phenological charts for each production area as well as other practices that need to be done during the year. The data is interlinked and guidelines for orchard practices are given according to tree phenology and fruit development.