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Author Topic: Best Lychee for Southern California  (Read 5976 times)

Mangosurf

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Best Lychee for Southern California
« on: March 01, 2014, 03:04:09 PM »
Can any experienced lychee growers please give their opinions on which lychee is easiest to grow and fruit in Southern California? Thanks!

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2014, 05:26:36 PM »
Hey Mangosurf,

Mauritius and Brewster are two of the supposedly easier to grow and fruit Lychee varieties here in SoCal but they are the two varieties I refuse to plant because I highly dislike the very large seed in the Brewster and I do not like the taste of Mauritius when compared to many of the other varieties out there. I must admit I really like the sweet taste of Brewster but the seed size is hard to get over.

There is the whole confusion thing regarding the Sweetheart variety, whether or not it's the same as Hak Ip and also what variety Sweetheart really is. I believe Sweetheart may possibly be Concubines Smile AKA Fei Zhi Siu. I do not know if Sweetheart is the same as Hak Ip but I should find out in a few years because my friend has Hak Ip growing in his yard so I can compare the fruit. One thing I know with great certainty is that some if not all the Hak Ips grown in Florida, the ones with small seeds and bumpy skin is NOT what Chinese call Hak Ip.

I have not tasted several of the varieties I am growing but I have done lots and lots of googling and reading posts from here and GW and from my own personal experience, I would recommend Sweetheart/Hak Ip, Kaimana and if you are patient and are willing to take a risk, I would recommend Salathiel and No Mai Tsze.
Simon

Mangosurf

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2014, 05:52:29 PM »
Thanks for the advice Simon. Between Kaimana and Sweetheart which has a smaller seed and larger fruit?                         

I think I will be lucky if I can get any fruit since I am less than 1mile from the coast but it's worth a shot. I should probably focus more on production and ease of growing rather than fruit quality
« Last Edit: March 01, 2014, 06:31:43 PM by Mangosurf »

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2014, 07:25:22 PM »
I've never fruited Kaimana but I've seen several posts about them and Sweetheart is larger from what I have seen and Sweetheart also has a high rate of chicken tongue seeds, I would say about 90% or higher.

If you are not worried about quality, even if you are, I would recommend Mauritius. I believe I saw a poll somewhere and Mauritius actually rated the highest. I'm taking those results with a grain of salt however because I'm sure many of the people that were polled have never tasted a variety like No Mai Chee.

Before you purchase your tree, you may want to consider waiting until this years SoCal lychee harvest season which can be around August to November, typically around Sept I believe. You can go to one of the nurseries with large trees such as Exotica or California Tropical Fruit Nursery and try out each variety before making a purchase. I just visited CTFN and most their Lychees had a decent bloom on them. You may really like Mauritius, when picked slightly early, there is a minor sour note that many people enjoy and when picked fully ripe, they are quite sweet.
Simon

Mangosurf

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2014, 06:42:55 AM »
That is a good idea to try the different varieties first before buying because everyone's tastes are different. Does Exotica carry most of these varieties like Sweetheart and Kaimana?

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2014, 09:14:09 AM »
Exotica has most of the common varieties and some lesser known ones but I have not checked up on their inventory for many years. I believe they may have lost some land and I'm not sure if they still have their larger trees out back. I would give them a call around harvest season or before you visit and let them know you would like to taste all available varieties before purchasing a tree.

California Tropical Fruit Tree Nursery has Hak Ip, Brewster and Mauritius. They were a flowering pretty decently so there should be fruit to taste later this year. Please keep us updated on what you decide on.
Simon

Mangosurf

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2014, 04:58:21 PM »
Initially I was thinking of mail ordering the Lychee from Florida but I have read that they don't take shipping well. Does anyone have experience with mail ordering Lychee and how did they handle transit and adapt to our California climate? It may be better to buy a tree at a local nursery since the trees have already adjusted even though they may cost more and  may not carry the exact variety I am looking for.

Rtreid

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2014, 07:19:12 PM »
Hi Mangosurf,

I cannot say anything about what the best varieties are since my trees are all too young to fruit (hopefully I will get a few this year).  I can tell you that I ordered both a Hak Ip and a Sweetheart from Florida and they both took the transfer and planting just fine.  My biggest problem, aside from the lack of heat due to being near the coast, are the winds that beat up the new foliage when the plant flushes.

Richard

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2014, 11:23:50 PM »
I ordered several Lychee trees from Florida and they handled the shipping fine. Like Rtreid mentioned, the biggest problem I encounter is protecting the delicate new leaves from getting tattered from the wind. A wind barrier is very beneficial to small lychee trees. Lychee trees also dislike our hard water which has high pH and chlorine in it.

Purchasing a Lychee tree locally is a good idea if you are not too picky about the variety. It is nice to be able to see in person the exact tree you are thinking about purchasing.

Simon

behlgarden

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2015, 01:55:51 PM »
After tasting Brewster at Leo Manuels place, I have concluded them to be the best I ever had. very strong rose fragrance and taste, sweet, strong lychee flavor, kept in refrigerator for 2 weeks and still good.

best part of Brewster from Leo's was that I got over 70% lychees with chicken tongue seeds. that is amazing. If Brewster can get even 50% chicken tongue, it would be huge deal.

Simon, what are your thoughts?

bsbullie

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2015, 02:26:35 PM »
That is odd about Brewster and chicken tongue seeds since they are known for having big seeds.
- Rob

behlgarden

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2015, 02:41:38 PM »
Yes, even Simon can speak for it. Per Simon as tree ages it aborts more seeds.

fyliu

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2015, 04:25:28 PM »
You should probably see what locals have that do well. Lychee seems to be picky about local conditions. Even grown in nearby towns in China, the productivity is different.

I've see Leo's Brewster do really well in San Diego so that's probably good to grow if your climates are alike.

If you want superior tasting experience and are adventurous, meaning you're okay with the chance of it not fruiting very well, I would try to get No mai chee(soft rice flour ball) or gwai mi(cinnamon spice).

Fei zi siu is pretty good to have if that's what the FL Hak Ips are. Can someone comment on the taste of FL Hak Ip?

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2015, 02:01:30 AM »
Behl, you are going to hate me for saying this but I just visited Leo's place again today and his Brewsters were much better today than two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, they were ripe but still early. Now they are larger and has lost pretty much all astringency, not that there was much before.

I was also shocked at the extremely high percentage of chicken tongue seeds in his Brewsters. I purchased lots of Mexican grown Brewsters from Trader Joes a couple months ago and approximately 10% of the fruit had chicken tongue seeds.

The Brewsters from Leo's yard has very roughly 70% chicken tongue seeds. I just randomly opened up 6 Brewsters from Leo's yard and 5 were chicken tongue with one fully formed seed. I've had many Brewsters in my lifetime and I'm more used to Brewsters having 10-20% chicken tongue seeds although every once in a while there are trees that produce high numbers of Chicken tongue seeds.

There are a few reasons I can think of that might possibly explain the high number of aborted seeds in Leo's Brewster. My first guess is that his Brewsters were cross pollinated with pollen from his large Sweetheart or smaller Hak Ip which can have non viable pollen.

My second guess is that as people pick fruit off his tree, they selectively pick the larger fruit first which tends to have the fully formed seeds. As more and more people harvest the fruit, they pick more and more of the larger fruit leaving the smaller fruit behind. The smaller fruit does have a higher proportion of aborted seeds, hint, hint:) by the time we came by two weeks ago, the larger, low hanging fruit have been mostly depleted leaving mostly smaller sized fruit with aborted seeds.

Here is a pic of my latest score.

Simon




behlgarden

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2015, 02:05:04 AM »
I knew it, it's a specoal tree in did pick large size clusters and still got 70% plus aborted seeds.

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2015, 02:17:13 AM »
I'm also wondering if our strange weather had anything to do with it. There are stories in China that some farmers find a special tree that has high percentage of chicken tongue seeds, sometimes on only one side of the tree. The farmer would then try to air layer from the side of the tree with higher percentage of chicken tongue seeds.

I have always liked Brewsters due to the sweet flesh and the extremely intoxicating Lychee/Rose aroma but I have always hated the large seeds. Leo's tree is making me want to plant one in my yard. I'll probably get some scion wood from Leo and graft it into my Longan.

Simon

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2015, 01:41:40 PM »
So I just read through all of this and I think the question has to be asked. How do we know for sure Leo's tree is a Brewster?  It sounds strange that only his Brewster has. High percentage of aborted seeds. Does his tree always have a high percentage of aborted seeds?  Or is this a special year?  Did he specifically say that as the tree got older it has given a higher percentage of aborted seeds?  I've never heard this before.

Bill

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2015, 03:11:17 PM »
Hello Bill, this is the first year I've had Leo's Brewsters so I'm not sure what the average % of chicken tongue seeds is from his tree from year to year. I know it is a Brewster because I've had many Brewsters before and the color, shape, bumps, seed size and especially the flavor/aroma are undeniable.

Leo's is not the only Brewster with high percentage of chicken tongue seeds, I've had high numbers of chicken tongue seeds from fruit at Exotica and also sometimes the fruit in clamshells from Mexico.

It was me that mentioned Lychees can have higher percentage of chicken tongue seeds as the tree ages, not Leo. I have read many articles on Lychees and it was mentioned somewhere but I do not recall which article it was. I can ask Leo next week wether his tree always has a high percentage of chicken tongue seeds or if this is a special year. I'll also ask him if he's noticed if he got a higher percentage of chicken tongue seeds after his Sweetheart and Hak Ip were placed into the ground.

There are several good articles about Lychees that talks about chicken tongue seeds and its relationship to non fully functional pollen. I hardly have a spare moment to try and find those articles with my two kids running around so it would be great if anyone can post here if you find it.

If Leos tree is special and always has high percentage of chicken tongue seeds even without a Sweetheart or Hak Ip tree around, everyone that loves Lychees should be super excited. A Brewster with a Chicken tongue seed is like hitting the jackpot in the world of Lychees. I just ate a string of large Lychees from Leo's tree, the largest fruit I can find on the same pannicle and I only got 3 out of 10 seeds to be chicken tongue.

You can often predict wether a fruit will have chicken tongue seeds or not by the size and shape of the fruit. The larger fruit that is slightly longer and wider in diameter usually has the full sized seeds. The narrower fruit which also usually has closer spaced bumps(as if the fruit didn't fully expand) is usually chicken tongue. This is the same for Manilla Mangos and Mangosteen.
Simon


OCchris

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2015, 12:10:08 AM »
This is good news. My Brewster produced it's first crop this year after 3 years in the ground. The only negative of the fruit was the flesh to seed ratio...the seeds were massive. Chris

simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2015, 12:19:57 AM »
Chris, what was the percentage of chicken tongue seeds you got?

Simon

OCchris

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2015, 11:31:26 PM »
Hi Simon, I had about 20 fruits and zero chicken tongue. So, needless to say, this thread intrigues me. Chris

sc4001992

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2019, 03:00:12 AM »
Ok, I thought I would add a few comments to this old thread since Simon sent me this link today.

Yes, I agree that the older Brewster tree gives more chicken tongue seed fruits. My tree (see air-layer lychee post) is pretty old (30+yrs) and I know it was labeled Brewster when I first purchased it from the nursery and planted in the ground.

Also as Simon mentions and shows in the photo of the smaller chicken tongue seed and larger seed, my fruits on the tree does shows similar results. The smaller fruits have a very high percentage (80+ %) chicken tongue. The big fat fruits are mostly big seeds. Since I have pick 50 lbs of fruit from my tree, I should have opened them and took a count of the seeds.

I might still have a few hundred fruits left on the tree so if I have time to do this I will and report back. I don't remember eating any of the larger fruits and finding the chicken tongue seeds.

sc4001992

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2019, 03:23:28 AM »
Here's a quick follow up. I performed a simple test. Randomly selected from the batch of 300 fruits, 10 each test samples.

I found the smallest fruits (qty=10) and the largest fruits (qty=10), took a photo1, then ate them all and placed eat seed at the same location in results photo2.

Results of my test shows that if you eat the small size fruits they have 90% chicken tongue seeds. The big/fat large fruits has 10% chicken tongue fruit.

This seems to follow what I have seen on the fruits from this tree for the last 5 years. The small fruits seems to always have the chicken tongue fruits. Hope this helps solve your mystery.

The lucky person is the one that buys the air layer branch that had the small ripe fruits. I won't tell. I guess I will need to make one air layer branch for myself of the small size fruit.

Good Luck.


sc4001992

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2019, 03:24:08 AM »





simon_grow

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Re: Best Lychee for Southern California
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2019, 12:16:27 PM »
Thanks for the report sc4001992!

Yes, if you take an air layer from a branch that produces chicken tongue seeds, literature says(anecdotally) that the resulting tree will produce more chicken tongue fruit.

The thing with Leo’s tree is that Frank, Behl and many others have noticed is that the majority of the fruit were chicken tongue seeds. The larger fruit did have more fully formed seeds but if you look at the entire harvest of his fruit, If I recall correctly, the total harvest had more chicken tongue seeds than fully formed seeds.

Simon

 

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