Home Fruit Science How to Cultivate Lychee Tree

How to Cultivate Lychee Tree

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In this Article we will discuss Lychee Cultivation

How ever if you want detailed guidance, you can also plan to get the book on Lychee Cultivation from here

The Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is a delicious juicy fruit of excellent quality. It is liked very much as table fruit.

Ideal Climate and Soil for Lychee Tree

Lychee tree being a sub-tropical fruit plant thrives best under warm sub-tropical climate. However, frost in winter and hot winds in summer limits its growth and production.

Hot winds results in cracking of fruits before reaching maturity while excessive rainfall at the time of flowering interfere with pollination.

The prolonged dry spell after fruit set reduces the crop considerably.

Lychee flourishes well on deep, well drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter and free from hard substrata.

Cultivars

  1. Early : Muzaffarpur, Early Seedless (Early Bedana)
  2. Mid-Early : Dehradun, Rose Scented
  3. Late : Calcuttia, Late Seedless

Tip: You can buy Lychee seeds from here

Propagation

  1. Method: Lychee is commercially propagated by air-layering (gootee). Non-flowering mature branches may be used for air layering.
  2. Time: Air-layering in litchi can be done in spring or early summer, however, the period from mid of July to October is considered best for air-layering.

Planting

  1. Pit Size: Before planting, pits of dimension 1m x 1m x 1m  should be dug at the desired place a few weeks before the actual planting. The pit should be filled   with a mixture of top soil, FYM, which should be mixed with a basket full of soil from a litchi orchard. It is helpful in establishment and quick growth of newly planted plants.
  2. Planting Time: Planting of litchi should be done when the weather is neither too wet nor too dry. The best planting time is August-September, as the temperature become moderate at that time.
  3. Planting Distance: Under favourable conditions litchi is planted at a distance of 10 metre apart both ways i.e., in rows and between plants. Young plants of litchi are very sensitive to heat and frost. They should be protected for first 4-5 years of their orchard life from cold and hot weather. Thatching in winter, frequent irrigations and partial shading in summer can be done to protect the plants from adverse weather conditions.

Training and Pruning

Training of young plants for making a good frame work is necessary. Once desired shape and frame work is achieved, pruning is not required.

Floor Mangement

  1. Weed control : Weeds in lychee tree orchard reduce plant growth and vigour by competing with trees for light, moisture and nutrient. Application of Paraquat and Glyophosate is beneficial in controlling weeds.
  2. Mulching: Use of mulch is very beneficial in reducing the soil moisture loss and development of better root system of young plants. Suitable fibrous mulches are wheat or barley straw, peanut shells.

Manuring and Fertilization 

FYM, diammonium phosphate and muriate of potash should be applied in December, half of urea should be applied in the middle of February and other half in the middle of April after fruit set for good quality cultivation of lychee tree.

The doses of FYM and fertilizers according to the age of tree are given in fertilizer schedule as under:

  FYM Fertilizer requirement (g/tree)
Age of tree (Year) (Kg/tree) Urea Diammonium Phosphate Muriate of potash
1 5 95 50 25
2 10 190 105 50
3 15 285 155 75
4 20 380 205 100
5 25 475 260 125
6 30 650 310 145
7 35 830 360 175
8 40 1010 415 200
9 45 1185 465 225
10th year and onwards 50 1490 645 335

 

Irrigation

Lychee tree should be carefully irrigated at all stages of development. The irrigation needs are more in summer. The young plants need irrigation twice a week during April-June.

In bearing trees, irrigation need is critical during flesh development which occurs from the second week of May to the end of June.

Irrigation of lychee tree twice a week during this period reduces cracking of fruits to a great extent and help in proper size development.

Flowering and Fruit set

Time of flowering

Litchi trees from air layers may come to flower at the age of 3-5 years, while seedlings take 8-12 years to flower.

Fruit set

Though the litchi tree flowers profusely, only a small percentage of the flowers develop into fruits. Several factors such as moisture stress, higher and lower temperatures and strong winds enhance flower drop and reduce fruit set.

Harvesting and Yield

Maturity Indices

The maturity of the fruit is determined by the flatness of tubercles and smoothness of apicarp, besides the changes in fruit colour.

Method of harvesting

The fruits are harvested in bunches from the tree. While harvesting, the panicles should be cut from the tree with secateurs.

Yield

A well cared and fully grown up tree yields 0.8-1.5 q. of fruit.

Special Problems

  Management
Fruit Drop

The premature drop of fruit is thought to be due to failure of fertilization, hormonal imbalance and external factors like high temperature, low humidity and strong winds.

Treatment with growth regulators like NAA @ 20-30 ppm or GA3 @ 20-50 ppm will minimize fruit drop.

Foliar spray of Boron (200 ppm) at the start of anthesis is the most effective treatment in increasing fruit set, yield and quality of Dehradun litchi under sub-tropical agroclimatic conditions of Jammu.

Fruit cracking

Sun burning and skin-cracking of developing fruits are serious problems in litchi and are promoted by high temperature, low humidity and low soil moisture.

Frequent irrigations during critical period of aril growth, spraying of zinc sulphate (1.5%) at weekly intervals, starting from pea size stage of fruit growth to harvest or spraying of GA3 @ 40 ppm.

Diseases and their management

Symptoms Management
Leaf  Spots

i)  Pestalotia Leaf Spot (Pestalotia pauciseta)

Light, discoloured spots on both sides of the leaf appear, having 0.5-2 cm x 0.2 x 2 cm size. Later, the spots coalesce to form bigger lesions, colour of the spot changes from brown to russet.

 

Spray copper oxychloride (300 g/100 L water) or carbendazim (100 g/ 100 L water) or captafol (200  g/100 L water) or mancozeb (300 g/100 L water) on the appearance of spots  and repeat at 10-15 days interval as per disease severity.

ii)  Colletotrichum leaf spot (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides)

 Spots usually start from the tip of the leaf and extend towards the base, irregular in outline, black to brown in colour with a margin encircling them.

Spray copper oxychloride (300 g/100 L water) or carbendazim (100 g/100 L water) or captafol (200 g/100 L water) or mancozeb (300 g/100 L water) on the appearance of spots and repeat at 10-15 days interval as per disease severity.
iii)  Botrydiplodia leaf spot (Botryodiplodia theobromae)

Spots usually start from the tip or margin of the leaf lamina, deep chocolate in colour, margin of the spots with irregular outline and brown in colour. Black pycnidial mass appears on both leaf surfaces.

Spray copper oxychloride (300 g/100 L water) or carbendazim (100 g/100L water) or baylet on (100 g/100 L water) or mancozeb (300 g/100 L water) on the appearance of spots and repeat at 10-15 days interval as per disease severity.
iv)  Microdiplodia leaf spot (Microdiplodia litchi)

 Margins of the diseased leaves turn yellowish brown to brick red in colour, the coloured area later becomes light brown and exhibits black dotted pycnidia coloured area later becomes light brown and exhibits black dotted pycnidia.

Spray copper oxychloride (300 g/100 L water) or carbendazim (100 g/100L water) or captafol (200 g/100 L water) or mancozeb (300 g/100 L water) on the appearance of spots and repeat at 10-15 days interval as per disease severity.
v) Red Rust (Cephaleuros virescens)

Orange yellow to pink, velvety coating of round shape is formed, generally on the lower surface of the leaves. The affected leaves turn dark brown in colour. The whole terminal gets bronzed, velvety and the inflorescence does not emerge from such terminals. The affected leaves become leathery and turn brown.

i) Prune off the affected branches during autumn and rainy season and destroy them by burning.

ii) Give three sprays of copper oxychloride (300 g/100 L water) during spring season: first spray during last week of March before buds open, second and third sprays at 10-15 days interval before flowers open.

iii) Repeat three sprays during rainy season.

Insect Pest Management

No serious pest has been recorded on lychee tree. However, unattended orchards are attacked by bark eating caterpillar, for which control measures can be recommended as under mango for the same insect.

You can also consider this book on Lychee disease management for further guidance.

If you found this article interesting and useful so for any detailed guidance you can refer to the book on Lychee Cultivation