Summer fruit lovers across the nation are tipped to enjoy a bounty of luscious lychees in the coming weeks with growers reporting a strong supply of top quality fruit will hit stores soon following a slow start to the season.
While the lychee harvest usually begins in far North Queensland in October, this season’s crop launched in late November and delivered small to medium sized fruit. Spurred on by excellent weather conditions and other growing regions coming on-line, production is set to rally with an abundance of plump, juicy fruit available from now until late February.
CEO of The Avolution, a unique grower-owned business representing key Australian lychee suppliers, Mr Antony Allen, said that despite the delayed start, growers are hailing this as one of the best quality crops on record.
“Although we’re now two thirds of the way through the harvest, it’s clear that overall we have a high yield of top quality lychees and the best is yet to come. So, for a lychee fan this is an exciting time with great quality fruit available at excellent prices thanks to the strong late-season supply,” Mr Allen said.
Commenting on signs of a good lychee, Mr Allen also noted: “A lychee is at its fresh, flavoursome best when it is beautifully plump and large in size, as well as bright red in colour. All these characteristics have improved this season meaning a better experience for consumers.”
With some growers currently on a strong growth curve, The Avolution expects lychee production to rise over the coming years.
“Across just four growers we work with, we’ve seen production increase from 30,000 to 60,000 trays in the past year which demonstrates that consumption remains strong and Aussies are continuing to discover the amazing versatility and flavour lychees have to offer.”
Additional growth is expected from the development of exports, with Mr Allen noting that the industry has set its sights firmly on the United States as a key target market.
“The lychee industry is currently working through the process of making shipments to the US market commercially viable. There is a three-year program in place which could pave the way for massive expansion of the market, and it’s definitely one to watch,” Mr Allen added.
Cultivated since the first lychee trees were brought to Australia in the 1870s by Chinese immigrants, Australian lychees are picked, packed and delivered to supermarkets in just three days to ensure they are the freshest and best in the world. The bulk of Australia’s lychee production is sold locally with between 20 and 35 per cent of the lychee crop exported to Asia and New Zealand.