The 2023 Lychee Season Update - Sweethearts Arriving Soon
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Pictures of the current state of the fruit are shown below. This year we will have the delicious and ever popular Sweetheart lychee fruit. For various reasons there will be little to none of the other varieties this year. Sadly, a combination of factors contributed to this situation. The first and most significant was the hard freeze that hit Highlands County and the second and less important was the Erinose mite problem. I will provide more information on the mite issue in a more comprehensive update. Forunately, this issue is fairly easily controlled with a non-toxic treatment.
The 2023 lychee fruit season wil be here during the first week of June. We expect to have Sweetheart fruit available from early to mid June. This past winter was cool and has helped with the issue of flowering, but the hard freeze that hit Central Florida damaged the crop in Sebring. Nevertheless, we will still have lots of great Sweetheart fruit available to begin the season. Our later ripening fruits, such as Mauritius and Brewster are still indeterminate as of yet, but indicaitons are that there will be very few Brewster and Mauritious.
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2023 Ft. Pierce Grove Tour.
Fast approaching ripeness Sweetheart fruit.
We enjoyed Sweethearts, Mauritius, Brewster, Emperor and Kaimana lychees unlike the past 5 years. The warm winters in Florida experienced since 2016 are unlike any in past years. We need chilling temperatures below 68 degrees F for decent bloom induction in lychee trees. The 68 degree temperature was established during research years ago in Australia, the largest Southern hemispherelychee producer.
We will anxiously await this years winter temperatures (hopefully cool, but not freezing). Let's hope we get cool days so that next January and February will see massive blooms on our indigenous lychee crop.
January and February are the critical months for lychee tree blooming. If we get the right quantity of hours below 68 degrees Fahrenheit there is a high probability that we will have bloom. In fact, this is what happened, and we are seeing the results now. We are getting bloom on all the major varieties which include Sweetheart, Mauritius, Brewster and Emperor. The video below provides a visual update. The fruit should be set and ripening by April and at that point we can make more accurate predictions about the late Spring crop.
The Emperor lychee has some unique characteristics that distinguish it from the Sweetheart, Mauritius, and Brewster varieties. It is a mountain variety, originating in the mountain rain forests of Thailand and southern China. The tree has a diminuitive habit of growth and a distinctly smaller leaf. It is one of the varieties that does very well in a container and will fruit in the container. We often recommend this type for growers in the north who keep their trees in greenhouses during the freezing months. It is the largest of all of the major lychee varieties, in some cases attaining an almost plum like size (10 - 11 fruits to the pound vs 18-22 per pound) if the fruits are thinned. The flavor is a cross between a Brewster and Mauritius with a distinctive sweetness, but lacking the tartness of the Mauritius. The seed is large, unlike the Sweetheart, but it makes up for this by its large size.
What is most interesting is that the winters in Florida are consistently becoming warmer. We are now seeing productive groves as far north as Fellsmere and Vero Beach. Lychees are growing as far north as Lakeland. Six years ago these trees would have been frozen out during the winter, but not now. How long this situation will last is anybody's best guess. The original lychee groves in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s,according the the journal of the now defunct Florida Lychee Growers Association were primarily in Highlands County and Sarasota area. A series of very hard freezes beginning in 1963 wiped out most of these plantings and growers moved into the Redlands. With real estate prices for raw land becoming very high this situation will not likely repeat itself should the climate start becoming cold again.
Of an historical note, the Brewster lychee was the first lychee fruit introduced into the US by the Reverend William Brewster, who was a missionary working in China prior to 1900. Reverend Brewster planted out a grove of these trees right around the turn of the century (1900) along what is now known as Davie extension road in Davie, Florida. From this original planting came the trees that ended up in groves extending into Central Florida, including the Sarasota area and Highlands County. A succession of hard freezes occurring in the early 1960s drove the fledgling lychee industry into the Homestead area of Miami-Dade County. Most of the trees in the original Brewster grove still remain and have grown to enormous size.
We are shipping at the end of May and beginning of June. We will send out an email as soon as we are ready to ship. When we do please Select Next Day Air or SECOND DAY AIR Shipping unless you are in Florida. If you live outside of Florida please DO NOT select Ground shipping.
If you live in Florida feel free to call us and we will arrange for the less expensive ground shipping (954) 648-6020.
A Cluster of Sweetheart Lychee Fruit.A Cross Section of Sweetheart Lychee Fruit.
In a typical lychee season the trees flower sometime between the middle of January through the end of February. It appears that this was the case during 2019. Ideally, the trees should enter the winter season in a state of dormancy (no active growth flushes). If we experience cool weather (temperatures below 68 degrees F) then there is a good chance that bloom flushes will occur. That is exactly the case this winter as we had many days of cool weather and we are hoping that this will portend a good fruit season, although we will not know for sure until early March as to the extent of the crop. It is always bad luck to predict the lychee crop before the fruit has set.
Last year was a so so year for lychee fruit. Perhaps one of the worst on record. So, statistically, like hurricanes, we are in store for a bountiful year with all of the varieties coming available. The first fruit is generally the Sweetheart, followed close on by the Mauritius and then the Brewster. We may have other varieties available such as the Emperor, Kaimana and Ohia, but we shall see.
The following video provides an overview of the bloom state of at least Sweetheart lychee trees. From the looks of the Mauritius and Brewster trees the fruit season will witness a smooth continuity of fruit from Sweetheart to Mauritius and Brewster and possibly Emperor and other rare varieties towards the end of the season in late June and early July.
The following video shows myself and David Lang and Sweetheart lychee trees.
Flower panicle with early fruit set and flowering trees in the grove
Sweetheart lychee fruit approaching ripeness
I will be available to consumers and growers this season for advice..
This Months Featured Articles: Studies Show that Lychee Derived Extract May Reduce Stress Related Cortisols
According to the March 2017 issue of Life Extension Journal Lychee fruit can play a significant role in reducing oxidative stress, inflammation and lower cortisol levels. Increased levels of cortisol can contribute towards the aging of internal organs and the overall appearance of aging. In addition elevated cortisol can lead to higher mortality rates and enhance the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Lychee polyphenol products contain long contain long chain polyphenols, not easily absorbed in the digestive system. A proprietary process has been developed which reduces the polyphenol molecule chain size, which makes the compound far more bio-available.
Studies have shown that participants had significant decreases in cortisol levels and well as that of the inflammatory cytokines IL-1 beta and IL-6. Read Article.
In another study the endurance capacity of of individuals involved in a double blind randomized controlled trial using oligomerized lychee fruit extract (OLFE) and a mixture of vitamin C and E were tested with intriguing results. Read Article
Lowering cortisol can be very helpful in controlling obesity, hypertension, blood sugar, bone density and neurodegeneration. Lychee derived oligonols may contribute to this objective and we will continue to keep you informed of the latest dietary advances associated with anything Lychee.
In this short video Bill provides four early updates (One in late February, the second in mid March, the third early April and the fourth in Mid May) to the 2018 - 2019 Lychee Season and explains the state of the bloom.
In the short video Bill provides a tour in the Sweet HeartTM grove and demonstrates how to eat a Sweet Heart.
Many lychee enthusiasts have requested a tutorial on how to propagate lychee trees via the method know as "air layering" or marcotting. Air layering involves stripping a circumferential section of bark from an appropriately shaped branch and applying an enclosed container of rooting material, generally sphagnum moss. Within the air layer the exposed edge of cambium begins to differentiate into lateral roots. After about 8 - 10 weeks this container is full of roots and is capable of surviving independently as an individual tree when removed from the parent.
The following video demonstrates how this first step in propagating a lychee tree is easily accomplished. To view this tutorial click on the following link https://youtu.be/_381-2CKdAA.
For the first time we are offering Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus undatus). Perhaps many of you have observed this fruit for sale in the specialty fruit department of some supermarkets.
A dragon fruit is a form of tree climbing cactus that has a beautiful night blooming flower. The flower resembles the head of a dragon when in full bloom and for this reason the "dragon" name. There are many varieties and the fruit is very attractive and delicious.
Commonly chilled and served fresh this attractive fruit has mild combined tastes of pear, kiwi and watermelon adding to its culinary versatility.
Dragon fruit is high in fiber, low in fat, high in antioxidants and is purported to have many other health benefits.
Past experience has taught us to be very careful in predicting lychee or any tropical fruit crops. Expressions like ?don?t bet the farm?and ?don?t count your chickens before they hatch? are all too true in agriculture and we have learned the hard way many times over so it is that we do not want to get overly optimistic. The accommpanying videos show the progression of the fruit from flower to partially developed fruit.
It is interesting to note that if one reads old copies of the long defunct Florida Lychee Growers Association journal you realize that most of the lychee cultivation in Florida, during the 30s, 40s, and 50s was in the Sarasota and Highlands County area. A succession of hard freezes in the 1960s caused most all of the lychee tree plantings to move into Miami-Dade county (Homestead). A very similar situation happened to the Florida citrus industry, where a succession of hard freezes drove much of the citrus industry from central Florida further south. There was a point in time , many years ago, where citrus was grown as far north as Tallahassee. The collapse of the South Florida real estate market and the low prices paid for lychees were two major factors responsible for the disappearance of many small groves in Miami-Dade and Broward County.
With the growing popularity of lychee fruit and the corresponding increase in demand for the product, prices paid to growers are improving and we expect this will lead to more extensive plantings in agricultural zones that are changing. Many areas where field landscape or citrus groves were planted are adaptible to lychee cultivation. With vacant land prices low again it is our hope that more serious growers will emerge.
One of the major challenges facing anyone who wants to start a lychee grove is the capital investment and relatively long time required to reach financially sustainable production levels. It takes at least seven (7) years before the trees come into full production. This is Florida and seven years is a lifetime when one considers the various kinds of natural disasters that can occur. Hurricanes, hard freezes, floods, pestilence, low prices, accidents etc. are among some of the natural challenges that present themselves to prospective growers. Still, when your first crop materializes it is a great day and all of the years of waiting are worth it.
The upshot of all this is that if you plan to grow lychee fruit you really need to have more than one tree. Even in some of the bigger northern groves there was only about 20% fruit set. I usually recommend that prospective growers plant out two of each fruit variety to insure production throughout the 6 ?7 week season and it is a well known fact that lychee trees set more fruit when in the presence of other varieties. This is especially true with regards to Mauritius lychees.
The reason for the above described situation is that lychee trees put out different flower types during the progression of the flowering event. Typically, lychee trees will initially put out male flowers followed by female flowers. If Brewster and Mauritius trees are out of sync then the probably increases that there will be viable pollen when the receptive stigma of the female flowers emerges. To learn more about this read the article on lychee tree flowering
I still continue to hear a very common question: ?Why didn?t my lychee tree bloom this year. This is the third year in a row. What am I doing wrong??
The answer to this is a bit counter-intuitive. I often tell fellow growers that the trees in our grove that fruit every year, fruit every year. What does that mean? Trees which produce fruit get ?pruned?when the fruit is picked. Lychee fruit is harvested with a pruning shears as one usually clips a panicle from the terminal end of a branch several inches below the beginning of the panicle base. This induces a growth flush which in turn sets the growth flush clock to a known period of time, thus increasing the probability that the trees will enter the winter months in a state of dormancy so that if there is a cold spell when buds are beginning to emerge the buds will morph into bloom spikes.
Even if your lychee tree produces no fruit any given year you should always prune it post harvest. The middle of July is a good time for this activity. In areas where lychees are grown commercially this process is often accomplished with a commercial hedging machine such as what is used to hedge citrus trees.
The Brewster bloom this year is modest. The bloom this year came in mid January through mid February, and the fruit is repining normally. It typically, requires about 90 days for the fruit to mature once the fruit has set.
That being said I would expect this Brewster fruit crop to become available in mid June.
Our Sweetheart trees put out a moderate bloom this year as a result of the cool days in January and February.
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Lychee Extract May Reduce Abdominal Fat: Study
A recent study conducted in Japan at the Department of Medical Management and Informatics, Hokkaido Information University,
concluded that a low molecular weight polyphenol (Oligonol) from lychee may reduce abdominal fat in people with metabolic syndrome.
To read an extract of the article Click Here to read a summary of the article in NutraIngredients.com
Featured Lychee Recipe - Grouper with a Lychee Chile Veloute
View Recipe and Preparation Procedure - -
Master Chef Peter Krause has created a marvelous recipe using fresh lychee, grouper and chile. The recipe is brilliantly illustrated in painstaking graphic and audio detail.
In all of our years of collecting and compiling recipes, that incorporate lychee, we must flatly say that this is the very best yet and sets the platinum standard for lychee cuisine.
Come and feast your eyes and palate on this masterpiece. We convey our enthusiastic gratitude to Peter for sharing his recipe with those of us who love lychee.
Featured Lychee Article
Learn the Particulars about Lychee Flowering - -
Almost every one who grows a lychee tree asks the same question: Why doesn't my tree bear any fruit? This is a common problem with lychee trees and
the answer and solution make for an interesting discussion. This article, divided into 5 parts, explains the morphology of lychee flowers and will help both the
backyard grower and commercial farmer in identifying essential characteristics of bloom pannicles as well as methods to overcome the reluctance of lychee trees to annually bloom.
Lychee Information Center
Free Lychee Information - Browse dozens of tips & articles about lychees including their origin, nutrition, varieties, propagation, planting, many aspects of growing lychee trees, soil conditioning and the soil food web. Some of the articles are written by us, some are submitted by guest contributers and others we have reprinted from a variety of government and non-profit organization websites that have great information about lychees already written. As part of our ongoing effort to provide you with a central source for lychee information, new articles are added at least once a month. Browse Articles
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