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Introduction of litchi

Introduction :

The lychee is the most renowned of a group of edible fruits of the soapberry family, sapindacae. It is botanically designated Litchi chinensis Sonn. and widely known as litchi. Litchi, one of the most environmentally sensitive subtropical tree fruit crop, is adapted to areas of the world characterized by warm subtropics and elevated tropics having cool dry winters and warm wet summers. The fruit consist of a single seed coveted by an agreeable sweet-acid tasting, crisp, white, juicy, translucent aril or pulp, which is high in vitamin C. It may be eaten fresh, frozen, canned in syrup or dried to produce "litchi nuts". The tree makes beautiful landscape specimens with their dark green leaves and bright red fruit.
Litchi fruit is native of china, is grown in India since 18th century. India is second largest producer of litchi. India accounts for about one-fifth of the global production and has a good export potential. While Bihar is the leading state in litchi production in the country. Assam, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are the other main litchi growing states. Bihar accounts for three-fourth of the litchi production of the country. The agro-climatic conditions of the state are ideal for this fruit cultivation.

Plant Description:

It is a vigorous evergreen perennial tree attaining a height of above 5 m with a broad crown and spreading branches and a dense light green shining foliage bears compound leaves. Flowers are borne on panicle.

Pollination system: cross pollinated

Chromosome no.: 2n=28,30

Soil and climatic requirements: Alluvial soil with good drainage is suitable for litchi orchard. It can grow in wide range of soils from light sandy to heavy clay. It can not withstand water logging for long. Soils taken from the root region of old trees may be added to pits while planting litchi. This practice introduces mycorrhiza that helps growth of litchi.
Litchi requires a moist sub-tropical climate without heavy frost and dry winds. The four essentials for litchi cultivation are-
(a) Freedom from frost
(b) High humidity
(c) Rich deep soil
(d) Abundant moisture

Success rate of air layering  
The crop is propagated commercially by air layering and also by grafting. But the success rate with air layering is normally more than 90 per cent while grafting technique is yet to be standardised, according to Mr. Ramadhar, Chairman, Bihar State Farmers Commission, Patna.
Good preparation of the planting site, 1-2 months before planting helps in better establishment of the saplings and ensures good growth during the early phase.
About 100 plants are required for one hectare and should be planted at a spacing of 9 x 9 mts. During the first two years after planting, intercrops such as vegetables, cereals, fruit crops such as papaya and gooseberry can be grown.
The crop comes to flowering from March to mid April. The duration of the flowering period varies from 27 - 38 days according to the variety grown.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.