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Sweetheart Lychee observations

Posted by simon_grow San Diego Zone 10 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 6, 10 at 12:26

Hello everyone, I have been growing my Sweetheart lychee for several years now, I bought it as a 1 gallon whip, and it is flowering for the first time this year. You can see on my older posts (just search Sweetheart Lychee) that I gave it a lot of TLC and even hung rocks on the trifurcated main branches in order to avoid weak V shaped crotches, which it still has although not as bad as it could have been.

I tried to do everything by the book and by this, I mean I tried to follow all the advice offered on Lycheeonline and other sources including from all my second family on this forum :) When selecting the plant, I tried to select a young plant that had about 2-3 ft of trunk before the trifurcation. The first year, I just let it grow out and up potted it with all organic potting soil ensuring that the soil was on the acidic side and also innoculating it with beneficial mycorhizzal fungi and bacteria. The second year was shaping the tree and making sure that I didn't fertilize it too late in the season and also making sure that it got a little bit of drought several months before I expected it to flower. Now in its 3rd year it is still potted and looks the same as my last update except that it has about 15 large bloom spike on it now.

As with others on this forum, I noticed that the first flowers to open were all females. Later, all the males started to open but there are hardly any females left. The tree now has almost all the flowers (maybe 90%) opened and about 99% of the flowers are male. I have to look very hard to find a female to hand pollinate but I did notice some observations.

For this specific Sweetheart in San Diego, the females tend to form on the bottom 10% of the flower pannicle and tend to grow in small clusters of up to 25 females. Now at the end of flowering, most of the males are drying up and falling off and small clusters of females are finally showing up again. There are still enough males around for pollination so I should get at least a couple fruits to maturity.

I'll try to post some pictures soon! After hearing about all the fruit drop, I hope my tree will hold some fruit. Phase had a really good harvest last year but his tree was planted into the ground. I have noticed from reading the recent posts than many of the members whose lychee plants dropped all their fruit had their trees in pots, which makes me nervous.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

hi simon, great to hear that you have success in your sweetheart lychee. can't want to see your pics. i think your estimate of couple of fruits is way too conservative. with your tree's size it should be able to hold 20 fruits.

mine sweetheart also has lots of bloom spikes this year, much more than last year, probably 70+ spikes. flowers are not as dense as last year, but still tighter than what I saw on most other trees. I hope to have better harvest this year.

flowers on my tree just started to open about a couple of weeks ago, and I'd say >95% are still not open yet. looks like your tree is 1 month ahead of mine.

yes the females open first, but I do see many males open now. problem is that this year I have not seen bees around yet - I may need to hand-pollinate this weekend.

on fruit dropping, most of the fruits dropped before reaching quarter size, I'd say >95% of mine dropped last year. but I still got about 50 in the end.

keep us updated Simon.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Congrats Simon and Phase...looking forward to pictures!


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Sounds like a good crop on the west coast again. Congrats guys...and don't stress too much on the drop rate..it's just natural.

@Simon- I guess this will give you a reason to pick up one of those No Mai Tzse for pollination...and later air-layering for me ;)


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

simon- looking fwd to the pics (i only have a handful of lychees left on each of the 3 trees that bloomed-THE REST DROPPED).

NTM- Nice to see you back. where u been hiding?


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

I have two Sweethearts that are growing nicely (after killing 3 prior plantings). Both have had recent vegetative flushes. One, however, has also bloomed in the midst of the vegetative flush. In fact, the first noticeabe fruits on all of my lychee trees is on this one Sweetheart. While the predominant blooms are female, there are many which appear male and some of these must be perfect in that I see fruit set on blooms that still have the remnants of the pollen and stamen. I wonder if amount of light affects the type (sex) of blossom produced? Seems I read somewhere about some plant that bloomed in accordance with light intensity.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

So when I went home yesterday, I did a rough count and I actually have about 18-20 bloom spikes. Harry may have something on the light intensity thing. I rotate my potted lychee so that the side of the tree with the most dense canopy gets the majority of the intense sunlight and this side is also where most the larger clusters of females are growing.

I also try to give the less dense side of the canopy some intense (Southern exposure=most intense light and longest duration of light exposure)sunlight so that the tree will not grow lopsided and grow fruits on only one side of the tree. I do this by turning my tree every several days so that the weaker side gets southern exposure about once a week or so. The weaker side does have some bloom spikes but not as many and they are definitely not as dense.

I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch but I will do everything in my power to try to get to taste at least one home grown lychee this year. The first fruit is so important to me because I am always worried about nurseries miss labeling plants. Phase and I live relatively close to each other and my tree is about 1 month ahead of his. The female were the first to open however so this does give me hope that I do in fact have a Sweetheart lychee.

Lycheeluva, are your trees potted or are they in the ground?

Harry, I did purchase a No Mai Tsze last year but killed it because it bought it around winter time. The nursery didn't even want to sell it to me because they said it needed another month in the greenhouse but they only had 3 left and finally got them to sell it to me. I should have waited the month before I bought it.

I was able to taste No Mai Tsze grown at this nursery and it was nothing like what I ate in China. The single fruit I ate here was very likely under ripe but the fruit did have color on it already. The fruit was smaller than what I had in china and was more juicy and tasted somewhat tart. The fruit that I had in China were larger, very tiny seed and was very crisp with no water leakage, just like what the literature says.

It is not a fair comparison however because these larger fruiting lychee trees grown at this nursery did not lavish their plants with the care and attention that we hobbyist can. They grow their trees more for their vegatative growth for air layers more than for fruit production.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Simon....."been there, done that' No Mai Tze story. I was able to find one many years ago at Treehouse Nursery in Pine Island, FL. Vivian Murray didn't want to sell it to me and I begged and she did. I killed it as well and still, to this day, some 15 years later haven't tried No Mai Tze. But......I do still covet it.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hey Harry, I think I will try to concince the nursery owner to take better care of their tree this year so I can taste a properly ripened USA grown NMT, it was actually pretty horrible the one I tasted last year. Nothing at all like the ones from China.

I checked their green house several months ago and they actually have quite a few NMT air layers now that should be ready to acclimate to the outside but I have lost interest in this variety untill I taste a good one grown here in the USA.

My Dads side of the family comes from a lychee growing province in China and I have eaten many (unnamed) lychees in China and many named varieties in the USA and so far, Sweetheart is one of my favorites. I have yet to taste Kaimana but hope to taste some soon. The Kaimana fruit actually looks a lot like one of my favorite lychees from China. It looks really clear white shiny, don't really know how to explain it.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Simon:

I certainly understand your reticence in buying a NTM without verification that it is worth growing it. Let me know if you ever get one that is worth the effort to buy the tree.

Kaimana is really excellent. I haven't met anyone that doesn't love it.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

@lycheeluva- sorry to hear about your fruit drop. I've been way too busy, but have time to surf the net now.

@Simon, Harry- I still need to find/buy a No Mai Tzse, and Hanging Green for my collection. Once I get them, I'll be complete...maybe.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hey north tree man, I believe you know this already but the USDA has a site that you can request germplasm from. Lychees aren't known to graft well so I wonder if we can pay them to air layer one for us.

I believe the Lychee repository at the USDA is composed of specimens donated to it or that it has collected but if you look up a specific cultivar such as No Mai Tsze or Hanging Green, they appear to have different trees. I highly doubt that they have been genetically tested and verified to be the variety it is claimed to be. If you look up Hak Ip descriptions, you will find some Hak Ip described to have large seeds and some to have small seeds. You really have to question the source of the cultivar you are trying to acquire.

I have gone to several nurseries in San Diego and asked them what variety this tree or that tree is and the nursery owner/worker "sometimes" is obviously making up a name.

I would really like to try a Hanging Green grown in the USA and if it tastes good, then I definitely want a tree. Its a shame that more people don't plant Lychee seeds. I know they are slow growing and take up a lot of room but imagine all the new varieties we can create here in the states that is more adapted to our climate. Specifically, I would like a really really good "Dry and Clean" type Lychee that produces a large red fruit with an atrophied seed and no rag. I'm pretty much asking for a dry and clean Sweetheart.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

I would also like to find and buy Hanging Green...at least based on its reputation. When I was in NY a couple of years ago, they were selling green skinned lychees which were ok, not great. They said that they were improted from China. I asked around, but no one seemed to know about the cultivar name. Basically, the people I talked to said that most of the customers didn't care to know the culitvar as long as the fruit was sweet. So, who knows what these were, but if the name decribed the fruits, these must have been Hanging Green.

It is true that the names cannot be relied upon. Here a local knowledgeable grower, on his own, decided that what was being sold here as Hak Ip was not the "Black Leaved" variety that is described in the literature. So he started marketing his fruits as Kim Wah. Don't ask me if that memans anything or if he just selected a Chinese sounding name. He would sell his fruit as something really different and special and get at least $10 per pound. So, you really have to be aware and be lucky on top of it.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

No Mai Tsze is a mountain lychee, which is why i think it wont fruit here. but dont let that stop you hopefully i am wrong.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

@Simon- Way ahead of you on that front. I have been nurturing about 28 Brewster, and homegrown emperor, rootstocks for about 1.5 years now. They are almost ready to be grafted onto. I know the Hawaii branch has a certified No Mai Tzse...not so sure about Florida's authenticity though. Any reference to Prof. Groff will be good enough for authentication. Someone needs to roll the dice, so why not me.

@Harry- I never trust lychees shipped in from China since they must pick them very early in order to get them here. I would bet that's why they were still green. As you know, they are best right off the tree ripe. Most likely, they were Hak Ip, since that is the predominant cultivar there (Simon can fact check me on that). I seriously doubt they were Kwa Luk (Hanging Green).

@Mango_Kush- No Mai Tzse certainly is a mountain variety, and that's why NMT trees in Hawaii have never bore fruit. Hence Kaimana being the predominant variety there. Since I'm in zone 6/7, I'm banking on the fact that I can get those chilling hours in ;)


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

N.T Man:

What I tasted may not have been Hanging Green.....but it was very green, with no red coloration. I grow Hak Ip. Hak Ips at my house never get the shade of green that these were. And, if you eat a Hak Ip that has no red color it would not be a pleasant experience, to say the least. Hak Ip fruit do have some green coloration when fully mature, but never completely green. The green lychees I tasted in NY were not the best, but they did have a sweet flavor rather than the tart flavor one would expect from a "harvested too early" lychee.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

north_tree_man, have you ever successfully grafted a lychee before? oO


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hey ntm, are you going to try to graft all those rootstocks with NMT or Hanging Green with the hope that some will take? Exotica Nursery, where I purchased my NMT has a very reliable source named Stephen Spangler (not sure on the last name). I do believe that their tree's are authentic NMT's but for some reason they just don't taste anything like the ones from China.

The only reason I am trying to find a Hanging Green is because of the reputation. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't really want to plant it untill after I taste it. The name of the lychee is not important to me but the quality, flavor, aroma, color is.

Kaimana has really great reviews and I hope to be able to taste some soon so I can determine if its worth planting.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

simon, I got a small Kaimana tree from ONG last Sunday ($55). thanks for the recommendation. it's quite small, so won't fruit until at least couple of years later.

has anyone on this forum grown or tasted a Kaimana?


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Kaimana is one of the best lychees I have ever tasted and grown. I have three trees. All obtained from different sources. Only the largest of them has fruited for me. Not sure why. However, the fruiting tree has put on consistant crops for 10 years.......except the immediate post Hurricane Wilma year. Large heart shaped fruit with very nicely flavored flesh....consistantly, but not 100% small seeds....not quite chicken tongue, but small enough to leave an excellent fruit fleah to seed ratio. It has no medicinal after taste that some lychees have.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Harry, how old are the other two trees?
what is your best guess as to why they are not doing as well? how are they doing this year


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

@Mango_Kush- No, I haven't grafted a lychee myself, but I understand it is quite possible with a top-wedge method, or patch budded. Check out the details here:
http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/fb/lychee/lychee.htm#Cultivars

@Simon- I would love to be able to just buy the cultivars, but that doesn't seem like an open option right now. The rootstocks are completely expendable, and I just need one to take for each cultivar. I totally agree with you on the quality, taste, flavor trumping all other characteristics, but it's highly unlikely I'll be able to taste lychees from every tree on the continent, so I'm left with the option of choosing some highly regarded names, and rolling the dice by grafting them. I already have four trees to fall back on anyway...it's a no lose situation, and everything to gain.

@Harry- I haven't a clue what you tasted before...even hanging green has some red color on it.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

some chinese cultivars dont fully turn red

hanging green is supposed to be a red lychee with a green tip and line, its sometimes grafted to Shan Chi (mountain lychee).

Pine Island has Shan Chi and i bet i can get No Mai Tsz wood from Hilo (interestingly enough they have three lychees all named No Mai Tsz), i didnt buy it because its supposedly an inferior rootstock variety and after research im not even going to attempt grafting lychee.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Harry, great description on the Kaimana, I really want to get one now. Do you recall if Kaimana is an early or late season variety when compared to Sweetheart?

Phase, I'm so glad you picked up a Kaimana. Did you have to bargain with his mom to get that price? Was the tree labeled Kaimana and were there any good shaped trees left?

Phase, I can't wait to hear how San Diego grown Kaimana tastes compared to Hawaii/Florida. I've read many great review of Kaimana and because it is capable of flowering in Hawaii, I see no reason whey I would not flower here in San Diego where we get a lot more chill hours. Actually, I know for sure it will flower here because I've seen the large Kaimana at Ong Nursery flower before.

Oh no, here we go again. The whole Sweetheart thing all over again but this time with Kaimana. Its so exciting how we pamper our Lychee plants, moving the pots into the sunlight so it can grow, taking it indoors when its too cold or windy. Then one day, the first time we see bloom spikes, we get so excited and for those of us that are super crazy about Lychees, we even hand pollinate the flowers. This is a very rewarding hobby because I personally feel its like meditating when I'm working with my plants and we literally get to taste the fruits of our labor.

Mango Kush, thanks for the pics!

ntm, your persistance in trying to acquiring a NMT is really making me consider getting another NMT from Exotica even though the single fruit I tasted was pretty horrible. The tree was definitely not in the best condition and the fruit was definitely under ripe. I will probably ask Steven where he acquired his NMT, I'm pretty sure he got it in China, I remember him saying he went on expeditions to Asia to look for new cultivars.

Hey Phase, if I get another NMT and when your Kaimana gets larger, maybe we can swap air layers.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Bryan:

My oldest fruiting Kaimana is 15 years in the ground. While the others are probably 8-9 years. As to why the others did not do as well, I think it may have been due to my interest in the hobby at that time and time availablity at the time of the later plantings. I don't think I gave the later plantings as much TLC and especially not as much water. In my experience, lack of water in the early stages of planting out lychee air layers and young trees is the main reason for decline. One of the later plantings, I think I got from Excalibur, did have some circling roots, and may have been pot bound. It is starting to grow nicely this year with the wet winter that we had. The other one seems very prone to bugs munching on it for some unknown reason. It was really chewed up by a few of our "pain in the leaf" beetles and weevils. They may have attacked the tree becuase it was in a state of distress. I am not sure. It also seems to be doing better since I have made sure that it is well irrigated. And after I put down a good layer of mulc around it and my other underperforming lychees. BTW, do you know which lychee that is supposed to be in the picture you posted?

Simon:

At my house, Kaimana is in the late-early or early-late time period. It matures after Hak Ip, Mauritius and Early Large Red and well before Bengal, Brewster and Emperor. It is contemporary with some of my other cultivars like Peerless, Ohia, Garnet, Farwell Ranch and Bosworth 3. I have Sweetheart but it has never fruited for me yet (this was the last of my lychee plantings). Looks like I'll be able to tell you better after this season as although the one tree I have in bloom is not blooming heavily, the limted number of pannicles are setting fruit nicely.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Harry, thanks for describing Kaimana. I now have high expectations for this tree.

Simon, ONG has some trees labeled as Kaimana (name handwritten on piece of plastic), but not too many. they have some small trees for $55 (the smallest), which are in better shape in that they have some vegetative spikes emerging. I would not say they are in ideal shape though. The larger ones (they ask for $95) are in pretty bad shape in my opinion - no new leaves, pretty much just a stick with a few old leaves.

I wanted to get the larger ones but those are not worth the money. His mom does not budge when I tried to negotiate.

BTW this is what my sweetheart looks like now with the bloom spikes. will post more later in the weekend.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Nicely bloomed...Phase.....you should have a good crop. Good job!

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Harry, idk what cultivar that is in the picture, i remember reading somewhere also imported Chinese lychees can be green. i know they are not Nuo Mi Ci

heres pics of "the prestigous three" from the blog linked below

Know-hows about Lychee, Guangdong's Special Summer Fruit
Updated Jun 19 2009 05:24:55 Beijing Time

Lychee (֦ in Chinese) is a sort of famous local fruit in Guangdong. It is a sweet and lovely summer treat.

As people have to wait for the lychees in Conghua, a lychee base in northern Guangzhou, to ripe and enter the market until the end of this month, a lychee festival kicks off today in Huangge, Nansha District in southern Guangzhou, for those who love this subtropical produce.

The food gala is held at the Lianxi Business Plaza in Huangge from June 19 to 27. People can take the metro line 4 to Huangge Auto Center stop. The venue is just next to the subway exit.

There are many kinds of lychees, including the following major ones:

Sweet Osmanthus Flavour (Gui Mei):

Named because of the Sweet Osmanthus flavour it contains, this lychee has light red shells, which contains sharp edges. The fruits are described as crispy and sweet. There is a related cultivar, called "Yatou Green" (yatoul, ^G). The shell of this cultivar has dark green spots.

'Glutinous Rice Ball' (Nuo Mi Ci):

Named after its thick fruit flesh and sweet (some described the taste as close to honey) flavours. The fresh red shells are not sharp and hard, and the seeds from this cultivar are noticeably smaller than others. Some fruits from this cultivar are seedless.

Huaizhi:

This lychee has larger fruit size, soft and juicy. Its seeds are also larger. The name Huaizhi, literally means "Branches [of fruit] in the arms of [a person]". This lychee supposedly received its name when a government official toured Lingnan (modern day Canton) and placed within his arms lychee branches gifted by local villagers.

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.lifeofguangzhou.com/node_10/node_35/node_524/2009/06/19/124540349566086.shtml


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Bryan:

The second fruit looks very much like Emperor. Perhaps a bit more rough in the skin, but the stems attach to Emperor fruit obliquely the same as is pictured in these fruits. Emperor might be even more obliquely stem attached than the picture. The third lychee shown looks a lot like Kaimana. It has an almost smooth skin and the fruit is shaped similarly. It is tough to appreciate their sizes without a frame of reference in the picture. Thanks for posting this though.

Harry


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

So, let me get this straight, Nuo Mi Ci is actually No Mai Tzse then? They are both called "Glutinous rice," but the spelling varies from Cantonese/Mandarin/other dialects?

@Phase- great panicles on that tree...you'll be eating them in no time.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Phase, tree is looking really good! Great job...look at all those bloom spikes.

Great pictures mango kush.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

north_tree_man fruit that has an original Asian name that translates into English is done phonetically and may have more than one spelling.

"Keo Savoy" mango is sometimes spelled Khaew Sawei

i sometimes see "Brahm Kai Meu" mango spelled Prahm Kai Meu,
which one is correct? who knows. my guess is because the correct pronunciation is neither a strong B or P so they may both be correct.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

You are absolutely right mangokush. How about Chou Anon, which I have also seen as Choc Anon and Choc Arnon. Or, Hak Ip lychee which I have seen as Har Kip and Hak Yip. Edaw longan as Edo longan. And Falang mango as Falan. Or how about lychee as litchee or litchi. "You say tomato" and I say who the heck cares....just give me the fruit.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

NTM: Nuo Mi Ci (Mandarin)= No Mai Tzse (Cantonese) = Glutinous rice. you may see some variations in the spelling too.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

There are so many different cultivar and yet I only tasted the one at the store and the sweetheart lychee. All the above pictures of the lychee look so good. Makes me want to get another tree.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Thanks for the clarity folks. I just like to know the name of my prey. *insidious laugh*


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hey Mango Kush, thanks for posting those great pics and the link. Those pics make my mouth water. The wai chi does look very similar to the Kaimana, I wonder how they compare in taste. I know that a lot of the lychee farmers in China plant mainly air layered trees but they also tend to plant a few trees from seed if they have a large plot of land. The Chinese government took over many of the local peoples lychee plots and only allowed each family to keep several trees.

I would love to go back to China during Lychee season and taste and collect air layers from the Lychee trees scattered around the different regions. Some people are lucky enough to do this, and luckily they brought samples back decades ago, allowing us to be in the hobby now.

I can't wait to see and taste the next new Lychee variety wether it is brought from overseas or a USDA selection. ***insanely insidious smirk, drool gliding down the side of my face***


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

i think a breeding program of Florida lychee cultivars is long overdue. we should be cultivating the Carries and Glenns of Lychees.

makes me almost want to invest in some cheap Agriculture land and a trailer.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

The problem with cultivating in Florida is the hurricanes. That's how Pine Island lost their Hanging greens, and No Mai Tzse. At least that's what they told me years ago.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

ntm, thats what Pine Island told me also. CA doesn't get any hurricanes so I guess I'll have to start planting some seeds:) I would think that Brewster, Sweetheart, Hak Ip and probably Kaimana seedlings would be good candidates for growing out. We can also get crazy and actually do specific crosses. I would love to grow out a Sweetheart crossed with a Kaimana, grow this out and cross with No Mai Tsze, grow this out and then cross back to a Kaimana, grow this out and then cross back to a Sweetheart grow this out and cross back to a NMT, grow out 1,000 seedlings, wait 15 years for the trees to have good harvest, sample each one and select the best one and name it after myself :) If anyone is willing to do this for me, I'll give them twenty bucks! Any takers?


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

was wondering if anyone knew what no mai tze translates into the Teochew dialect?

I wish I lived in South FL to have access to more lychee cultivar. I keep finding brewster, mauritius, and hak ip at the local nursery in Orlando.


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hi my name is juan and I have to say that my family have learn a great deal about lychees since we had to plant something for tax purposes. I am actually in one of the southern part of Miami right before you start heading to the keys. :) yeah it's great growing lychees especially sweethearts. They are my favorite and then the Mauritius.
If your interested feel free to contact me but like I said if you are interested. My email is quirozvj1228@hotmail


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

heavenly, do you have any of the more rare varieties of Lychees, perhaps one of the Chinese named cultivars?
Simon


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

I will check with my dad , and will get back to you. I know for a fact that we have sweethearts and Mauritius . But like I said I will ask and get back to you


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hi I asked him and and he said that we really only have an ohia lychee. But that it was a gift. We only have sweetheart and Mauritius lychees.
I would post pics but I am not sure how exactly


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RE: Sweetheart Lychee observations

Hi All
Is there anyone having air layered lychee plants for sale ?


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