research

ALGA as the peak industry body works with QDPI, HIA, Growcom and CSIRO in deciding research priorities and implementing them.

Germplasm

Australia has a germplasm of over 40 named cultivars from China, Thailand, Taiwan, Mauritius, India, USA and seedlings of Australian origin. Over 600 hybrids are being evaluated.

Nutrition and water

Industry is working with QDPI to develop best practice in both of these areas.

Integrated Pest Management

The Australian lychee industry is developing an IPM program utilising a variety of techniques. These include the use of biological controls, softer narrow spectrum insecticides and non chemical methods such as exclusion netting.

Growers are utilising a range of other non-chemical methods to control pests such as strong lights to attract and kill pests, and organic production.

Harvesting

The season commences with Souey Tung in northern Queensland in mid-October and finishes with Wai Chee in northern New South Wales in late March.

Harvesting maturity is determined by fruit size, colour and flavour.

Picking starts at first light and usually ends by 10 am. Secateurs, and long handled picking tools, are used to cut panicles or single fruit from trees.

The harvested fruits are usually placed into plastic field crates. Ladders are used in orchards with large trees, as are self-propelled hydraulic platforms that improve efficiency.

Packing

There are a variety of procedures used by growers. The general procedure is to wet the fruit to remove field heat as soon as it enters the shed. The fruit are then de-stalked, manually or mechanically. At this point they are either cooled and then graded, or vice versa, before packing into cartons. Hydro coolers and/or cool rooms are used for this purpose.

Quality assurance

Industry quality control standards have been developed for lychees. Export quality fruit must have minimal defects, good colour and excellent flavour. First class fruit can have some small defects, however, it must have a very good taste.

To reduce water loss and browning, lychees are marketed in 'crispy' or poly bags in cartons, which hold 5 kg of fruit. Some fruit is also packed into punnets.

Transport

Lychees are normally shipped by refrigerated transport to retain the red skin colour, prolong shelf life and ensure an excellent taste.

Export 

Export fruit is air freighted and the time from harvest to being sold at the export market is 3 days:

  • Day 1 - Harvest and Pack
  • Day 2 - Inspection and Airfreight
  • Day 3 - Selling at market to the customer.

The use of the cool chain, good quality control and airfreight ensure that Australian lychees are the best quality fresh lychees.

Marketing groups

The majority of exports are quality controlled fruit from two marketing groups: the United Lychee Marketing Association; Top Crop; and larger lychee growers. Some fruit is exported from the market floors in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.