G.J. Begemann
South Africa is a fairly young litchi producing country in comparison to China. Litchis (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) spread from China where litchi records date back to more than 2100 years BC. From there litchi trees were distributed around the world in tropical and subtropical areas. In the Southern Hemisphere litchis landed up in Madagascar, Mauritius and the east coast of Central Africa. Litchis reached South Africa from Mauritius in 1875 and the first and oldest litchi tree in South Africa was planted that same year in Durban Botanical Gardens on the east coast of South Africa. Litchis spread from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province, to the Province of Mpumalanga as well as other suitable frost-free areas of the country. The plant reached Barberton near Nelspruit approximately 100 years ago. Today the main production regions are located in the frost-free areas of Mpumalanga and the Limpopo Province in the north of the country. Area under commercial production in South Africa totals 1,731 ha, with 514 ha in Limpopo Province, 1,108 ha in Mpumalanga (including Swaziland), 109 ha in KwaZulu-Natal. On a tree basis the number of trees in South Africa is estimated at 344,500. The main production areas can be found near the towns of Nelspruit, Hazyview and Malelane in Mpumalanga where 70% of litchis are produced. This is followed by the Tzaneen area in the Limpopo Province with 25% of the production. The remaining 5% is produced in KwaZulu-Natal. In 1987 the South African Litchi Growers’ Association (SALGA) was formed. SALGA represents the local litchi industry. In 1992 a breeding programme was initiated at the Agricultural Research Council’s Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops in Nelspruit. In 2006 the litchi, avocado, mango and macadamia growers formed The Subtropical Growers’ Association Subtrop (Subtrop). Subtrop is a voluntary non-profit organization that coordinates research and extension services as well as market development, and acts as a mouth piece for the different growers’ associations.
Begemann, G.J. (2014). THE SOUTH AFRICAN LITCHI INDUSTRY - AN OVERVIEW. Acta Hortic. 1029, 35-38
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2014.1029.2
Litchi chinensis Sonn., South Africa, litchi industry, production, SALGA, Subtrop

Acta Horticulturae