- Litchi is one of the important fruits which can be grown successfully in the sub-montane part of the Punjab State comprising parts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Roopnagar, SAS Nagar and Patiala districts. In view of the export possibilities of litchi fruit from Punjab, its future appears to be quite bright.
Climate and Soil
- The climatic conditions of sub-montane tract of Punjab are suitabale for the growth and fruiting of litchi. In these areas summers are quite hot to encourage vegetative growth of plants and winters are cool enough to provide 200-300 chilling hours to facilitate fruit bud differentation in litchi. Quite frequently, summer temperature rises above 40oC during the period of fruit growth and development. This is favourable for sun-burning and cracking of fruits to varying intensities in all the recommended cultivars.
- Litchi grows well in deep, fertile, well-drained, medium textured soil, which is free from hard pans of any kind and salinity. Preferably, the soil pH should be around 7.5 to 8.0. In high pH and saline soils, litchi is difficult to establish and flourish. Therefore, such soils should be avoided.
- Recommended Cultivars
- Dehra Dun (1967) : It is an early, regular and heavy-bearing cultivar, fruits mature in the second week of June. Its fruits have an attractive colour but are prone to splitting. Pulp is sweet, moderately juicy, medium soft in texture, juice has 17 per cent TSS and 0.48 per cent acidity.
- Calcuttia (1967) : It is heavy bearing cultivar with excellent fruit quality. Its fruits are large, attractive and mature in the third week of June. It is less prone to cracking. Pulp is sweet and soft Sub-mon• tane parts of Punjab are more suitable for litchi cultivation. Air-layering (gootee) is best • method for propagation. Two year old seedling should • be planted in the month of September. in texture, moderately juicy with good flavour, juice has 18% TSS and 0.49% acidity.
- Seedless Late (1967): It has shrivelled seed and a much greater proportion of pulp in the fruit. Fruits mature in the third week of June and are more prone to splitting than Calcuttia. It is prone to irregular bearing. Fruits are deep carmine red, pulp is soft, sweet and very juicy with an agreeable flavour, juice has 18.7 per cent TSS and 0.3 per cent acidity. Pulp/stone ratio is 28:1. It comes into bearing rather late.
- Litchi is propagated commercially by air-layering (gootee). A terminal branch, 45-60 cm long and 1.0-1.25 cm thick is selected. A 4 cm wide ring of bark is removed with a sharp knife. Place wet moss grass on the exposed portion and wrap it with polythene sheet. The ends of wrapped polythene sheet should be tied tightly.
- The rooting starts after about 4 weeks. However, the gootee should be removed from the mother tree only when a good number of roots have developed. After severing from the mother tree, remove the polythene sheet and immediately plant the gootee in a nursery bed. Apply irrigation to the gootee after plantation in the nursery. Middle of July to September are the best months for the air layering of litchi.
- Litchi should be planted towards the end of the rainy season when the environmental temperature becomes moderate and the atmosphere has high humidity i.e. in September. Two year old plants should be planted in the field as it considerably reduces field mortality. Young litchi plants if purchased should be planted in the nursery.
Protection of Young Plants Against Cold and Hot Weather
- The young litchi plants need protection against winter frost and summer winds upto 4-5 years. Cover the plants with locally available materials like sarkanda. Growing of dhaincha around the young plants provide good protection in summer and winter. The dhaincha seed should be sown around plants in the basin in the middle of February. It grows sufficiently by the middle of April to provide shade to the plants of litchi. Dhaincha can be tied in winter to act as protection against frost. The open spaces in dhaincha stems can be plugged with locally available straw. Root pruning of dhaincha plants is necessary to avoid competition with litchi roots. It should be done three or four times in a year.
- Wind Breaks: Litchi orchards should be protected from strong winds which can cause the uprooting of trees and drop of flowers and fruits. A row of tall growing trees alongwith boundaries of the newly established orchards such as seedling mango, Jamun, Eucalyptus etc. should be planted.
Manures and Fertilizers
Dose per tree (g)
Age of tree (years)
Farmyard manure (kg/tree)
Muriate of Potash
- Farmyard manure, superphosphate and muriate of potash should be applied in December. Half of urea should be applied in the middle of February and the other half in the middle of April after fruit set.
- Litchi is a slow growing plant and it takes about ten years to come into commercial bearing. Moreover, there is sufficient space in the orchard to grow intercrops. Besides, intercropping quick growing fruit plants such as peach, plum can be interplanted in litchi orchards. As soon as the litchi orchard comes into commercial bearing the filler plants should be uprooted.
- The growing of intercrops not only provides income to the farmer but give protection to the young plants and keep the weeds under control. The type of intercrops depends upon the soil, climate as well as the marketing facilities. Pulses and vegetables should be preferred as intercrops. The irrigation for intercrop and orchard should be independent.
- Bagging of Litchi Bunches for Quality Production
- The bagging of litchi fruit bunches with white and pink polypropylene non-woven bags at 25-30 days after fruit set provide physical protection against fruit nut borer, sun burning, cracking and also improves pericarp colour and fruit quality.
- Fruit Maturity and Harvesting
- The fruit is harvested in bunches. As the whole of the fruits do not ripe at one time, spot picking is done. The fruit should be harvested with as little foliage as possible. The fruit is then packed in small baskets and sent to the market.
- For marketing of litchi in local and distant markets, corrugated fibre board boxes of 2 kg capacity having size 340 mm×220 mm× 100 mm and of 4 kg capacity having size 340 mm×220 mm×185 mm of 3-5 ply thickness can be used. For packing 8-10 kg litchi, the corrugated fibre board box of internal size of 420 mm×235 mm×210 mm and 5 ply thickness can be used for domestic as well as distant marketing.