A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO IMPROVE LITCHI ORCHARD MANAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA
The South African litchi industry is predominantly export orientated and great effort is put into gaining high yields and marketable fruit size. In spite of profuse flowering, litchi yield is usually inadequate, mainly because of massive fruitlet drop during the early period of fruit development. Fruit size is often hampered by insufficient irrigation and fertilization during the critical periods of fruit development. Although good research has been done on various aspects of litchi production this research often does not find its way into farm management. This background in litchi production was the reason for initiating a project which combines good agricultural practice with research results in the area of irrigation, fertilization, use of plant growth regulators as well as other horticultural practices in order to reduce alternate bearing and increase yield and fruit size. Five management programs were developed and are compared with one another according to their effects on yield and fruit size. Three years of data have been collected and give a clear indication on how to manipulate litchi cropping. Furthermore, a software program to provide guideline for the management of litchi orchards is being developed and is currently being tested on various litchi farms. This program will include phenological charts for each production area, fertilizer and irrigation scheduling according to tree requirement as well as other practices that need to be done during the year. The data is interlinked and guidelines for orchard practices are given according to tree phenology and fruit development.
Cronje, R.B. and Mostert, P.G. (2010). A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO IMPROVE LITCHI ORCHARD MANAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA. Acta Hortic. 863, 433-436
irrigation, fertilization, plant growth regulators, management program, tree phenology, 'Litchi Production Planner'