THE BRAZILIAN LYCHEE INDUSTRY – PRESENT AND FUTURE
In 2007, about 1,500 ha of land in São Paulo were given over to the lychee industry compared to 350 ha ten years ago. São Paulo state accounts for roughly 70% of the total planted area, followed by the neighboring states of Minas Gerais (15%), Paraná (5%) and minor industries in Goias, the Federal District, Espirito Santo and Rio de Janeiro. Approximately 25% of the area is in full production, 35% is beginning production and 40% contains young non-bearing trees. The main Bengal cultivar accounts for 99% of the planted area in old and new orchards. It has a pronounced biannual bearing habit which is clearly illustrated by the drastic fluctuation in supply of fresh fruit (2,500 MT in an on year compared to 400 MT in an off year), as well as by the difference in price paid by consumers which varies from US$ 3.50 to 10.00/kg. The forecast is for a doubling of current production in the next five years and for over 10,000 MT by 2020. Because lychee production in Brazil relies upon one cultivar (Bengal) and on one major region – São Paulo, the harvesting peak is highly concentrated in December (65 to 70%), therefore prices are lower during this period. The Brazilian lychee industry produces fresh fruit mainly for its domestic market; only tiny amounts are exported to Europe. There is no importation from other producer countries. The main constraints on lychee production in Brazil include the lack of information regarding adequate technologies for canopy management, pruning, nutrition, irrigation, pest management and post harvest handling of the fruit, as well as variable genetic material (early- and late-season cultivars in relation to Bengal) with fruits that have a high percentage of good quality pulp. However, since 2004, a group of 20 growers from different regions, under the co-ordination of the University of Brasilia, have introduced new cultivars (Kwai May Pink, Kwai May Red, Feizixiao, Tai So, Souey Tung, Salathiel, Emperor, Haak Yip and Kaimana) from Australia, which are now being assessed in 20 different farms across five different states (São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, the Federal District and Bahia). It is expected that in a few years time Bengal will be gradually replaced by these new cultivars and the harvesting period will be extended from September to March. In addition, many orchards of Bengal are located in warm areas (approximately 25% of the total planted area in Brazil); this makes them unproductive because fruiting is extremely erratic if there is no chilling to induce flowering. These orchards would set and bear fruits more constantly and earlier in the season if they were top-worked with new cultivars that have low chilling requirements. In Brazil, there is a huge potential for the lychee to become as popular as the kiwi fruit was in the 90s providing that the industry manages to supply good quality fruits for a longer period and at an affordable price.
Yamanishi, O.K., Pires, M.C. and Almeida, L.F.P. (2010). THE BRAZILIAN LYCHEE INDUSTRY – PRESENT AND FUTURE. Acta Hortic. 863, 59-66
lychee, 'Bengal', São Paulo, CEAGESP, commercialization, production