PLANT IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES FOR LITCHIS IN SOUTH AFRICA
For nearly a century two cultivars formed the basis of the South African commercial litchi industry, namely Mauritius (Tai So) and McLeans Red (Bengal). The Agricultural Research Councils Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-ITSC) in Nelspruit executes a plant improvement program for litchis based on two interlinked strategies, namely (1) evaluation of local selections and imported cultivars, and (2) breeding of new material adapted to local conditions. From results with litchi cultivar evaluation, Third Month Red (San Yue Hong), Fay Zee Siu and Wai Chee are recommended, mainly for extending the production season. Simultaneously, there is a litchi breeding project aimed at using different breeding systems to gain improved genetic material specifically suited for South African conditions. The main aim of litchi improvement in South Africa is to extend the short harvesting period and at the same time to deliver cultivars with improved tree and fruit qualities. Various selections with promising traits such as early or late harvesting time and better external and internal fruit qualities have been identified so far. With new advances in molecular biotechnology it is essential that the program moves towards a more targeted breeding and selection approach. Collaboration with other leading litchi producing countries is furthermore essential in order to broaden the small base of pristine cultivars currently available for plant improvement/breeding purposes. This paper gives a description of plant improvement strategies followed in South Africa, as well as progress and prospects in the program.
Froneman, I.J., Husselman, J.H., Cronje, R.B., Severn-Ellis, A. and Sippel, A.D. (2014). PLANT IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES FOR LITCHIS IN SOUTH AFRICA. Acta Hortic. 1029, 65-71
Litchi chinensis Sonn., cultivars, breeding, evaluation, biotechnology