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Introduction:

Litchi chinesis is an evergreen tree. Flowers grow on a terminal inflorescence with many panicles on the current season's growth. The fleshy, edible portion of the fruit is an aril, surrounding one dark brown inedible seed that is 1 to 3.3 cm (0.39 to 1.3 in) long and .6 to 1.2 cm (0.24 to 0.47 in) wide. Some cultivars produce a high percentage of fruits with shriveled aborted seeds known as 'chicken tongues'. These fruit typically have a higher price, due to having more edible flesh.According to APEDA Agri Exchange, Bihar is the leading state in production followed by West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam and Chhattisgarh. Total Production in India is 577.79 thousand tonnes.

Popular Varieties:

Varieties Distributions of Litchi in Different States in India.

States

Varieties

Bihar

Deshi, Purbi, China, Kasba, Bedana, Early Bedana, Late Bedana, Dehra Rose, Shahi, Manragi, Maclean, Longia, Kaselia and Swarna Rupa

Uttar Pradesh

Early Large Red, Early Bedana, Late Large Red, Rose Scented, Late Bedana, Calcuttia, Extra Early, Gulabi, Pickling, Khatti, Dehra Dun, Piyazi

West Bengal

Bombai, Ellaichi Early, China, Deshi, Purbi and Kasba

Haryana/Punjab

Early Seedless, Late Seedless, Seedless-1, Seedless-2

Maturity Indicies:

  • Red Color (due to anthocyanins in the skin) is a good indicator of maturity along with fruit size.(minimum of 25 mm in diameter).
  • Reaching the optimum range of sugar, acid ratio for the cultivator.
  • Litchis should be harvested fully-ripe because they do not continue to ripen after harvest.

Harvesting Time

  • Litchi fruits mature 50-60 days after fruit set.
  • Harvesting is usually done in May and June.
  • The development of color on fruits is a dependable criterion of maturity but it differs from variety to variety.  Generally fruits turn deep red when fully ripe. 
  • Fruits harvested at this stage possess excellent fruit quality.
  • The fruits are harvested in bunches along with a portion of the branch and a few leaves.
  • The fruits are harvested early in the morning when temperature and humidity are congenial, to have longer shelf-life of the fruit.
Packaging
  • After harvesting, fruit should be packed as quickly as possible, as their quality deteriorates markedly, if they are exposed to sun even for a few hours.
  • For domestic markets litchi is usually packed in small bamboo baskets or wooden crates.
  • These are lined with litchi leaves or other soft packing material as paper shavings, wood-wool, etc.
  • Proper packing of fruits is important in maintaining freshness and quality and preventing fruit decay during transit for marketing to distant places.
  • A good box for packing fruits should be light in weight, shallow and rigid enough to protect the fruits. It should have few holes for ventilation and rope handles on either side for lifting the box.
  • Fruits are packed in clusters along with few leaves.

Storage

  • Litchi fruit cannot be kept for more than a few days after harvest, at room temperature.
  • If marketing is delayed fruits should be kept in cold storage where they can be stored in good condition for 3-4 weeks.
  • Fruits could be stored at 2°C in perforated polythene bags for 5 weeks without much spoilage. For short-term storage less than two weeks, a temperature of 7°C is satisfactory.
  • A relative humidity should be kept at 90-95% throughout storage and transport.
  • Controlled atmosphere storage (3-5% O and 3-5% CO) reduces skin browning and slows down the losses of ascorbic acid, acidity, and soluble solids

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