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M. Winarno [9]


Lychee (Litchi chinensis) is one of the minor tropical fruits in Indonesia. It is less popular than the longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour), the related fruit in the Sapindaceae family, which is more commercially known in the country. Another related fruit in the same family, the rambutan (Nephelium lappaceum), is much more widely grown and sold commercially throughout the country.

The cultivated lychee in Indonesia could have originated from a single mother tree of lychee grown in the garden of the Tapaksiring Palace in Bali. However, there is no report on the origin of the tree. Besides the cultivated lychee in Bali, there was also a report of lychee as a forest tree in East Kalimantan (local name: ihau).


At present, the lychee cultivated area is very limited. The only known province or island in the Indonesian archipelago where the crop has been cultivated for decades is Bali, in the districts of Gianyar, Tabanan, and Bangli, at elevations of 400-700 metres.

The area has 4-5 dry months and temperatures of 22º-31ºC and 80 percent relative humidity. The annual rainfall is 2,500-3,000 mm.

The total number of cultivated trees is about a thousand most of which are over 50 years old, whereas the numbers of longan and rambutan in the country are around 30,000 and 4 million trees, respectively. The lychee is mostly grown in the home garden lots and also as roadside trees. The yield is reported to be about 200-300 kg per tree. In the last harvest season, the price of lychee in the market reached 7-10 thousand rupiah per kg (1 US$ per kg).


There is no private nursery that produces commercial lychee planting materials, since little attention has been given to the development of lychee production. The long-term investment required may be one of the reasons for little interest in production development programmes either by the Government or the private sectors.

The only report was a single-year development programme of lychee production carried out in 1999 by the local government of Bali. This development programme distributed 50 vegetatively propagated plants to each of the three districts. The planting materials were raised by air-layering, the propagation method adopted by the local growers.

The future production management of more lychee planting materials could be included in the National scheme for the production of superior planting materials of tropical fruits crops. The National scheme covers the development of a Foundation Block and a Multiplication Block. Mother trees of selected clones are grown and well-managed in a Foundation Block. The number of mother trees kept in the Foundation Block is limited. Therefore, a Multiplication Block is designed for providing large quantities of propagation materials to nurseries. The Multiplication Block can be a densely planted with lychee or other fruits.


As mentioned earlier, lychee is a home garden or road side tree as are other minor fruits crops. Therefore, there has generally been no specific crop management as applied in an orchard. Tree spacing is irregular and there is practically no water management, no fertilizer application, no pruning, and no disease/pest control treatments.

Several of the trees have even been cut down for specific reasons such as for the development of infrastructure and housing.


The marcotted tree starts bearing in the fifth year after planting. Growers harvest lychees when they are mature. Maturity is judged especially by the fruit’s skin colour. The fruit is picked when 80 percent of the skin is red in colour. The whole panicle is then cut with a knife or scissors. The period of November to December is the harvest season for lychee in Bali. The lychee is sold on the local markets or to hotels in bunched panicles of fruit in bamboo baskets without any grade specifications.


Lychee has been traded internationally as fresh fruit, dried, and canned products. The main producing countries are Taiwan Province of China, India, and China.

Provided there are growing regional and international markets, there may be interest in production development, especially in the regions where the agro-climatic requirements can be met and other production constraints can be overcome. The production development may then also lead to the development of the processing industry.

Orchard and agro-industry development can at least provide jobs opportunities for the people and accelerate rural economic growth. In this respect and especially considering the agro-climatic requirements for the growth and development of lychee, the eastern part of Indonesia could be a possible area for lychee development.


The only areas of cultivated lychee trees at present are the three districts in the province of Bali. Since the trees could have originated from the single mother tree and propagated vegetatively, there is no opportunity for further breeding work such as clonal selection.

The weaknesses of the existing cultivar are short harvest season, year-to-year variation in yield, low quality and small size of the fruits. Growers also have problems in growing lychee, especially the large tree-size and root-system. Growers have experience that the root system may damage the foundations of houses. Therefore, growers are reluctant to increase the planting area in their home gardens.

Lack of technology is another problem of production development, including the technology for the mass production of planting materials.


The research institutes of the Department of Agriculture and the universities usually carry out research work in Indonesia. Due to limited resources, lychee has not been included as a research work priority.

However, a short-cut R & D programme, which could be developed first would be the introduction of improved varieties from other countries. The improved varieties must possess the market preference characteristics. A variety trial in several regions could then be conducted. Observed characteristics of the tested varieties must include flowering, harvest season and yield consistency. The next step would be planting material production of the selected varieties. Orchards could then be established in the grower’s dryland areas. The orchard management would be arranged through grower groups. The Government could facilitate the development of infrastructure and provide financial assistance.


At present, lychee is a minor fruit crop in Indonesia. The cultivated area is found in the districts of Gianyar, Tabanan, and Bangli, on the island of Bali.

Constraints in production development have been identified. Growing regional and international markets will drive the interest on lychee development through improved technology in the appropriate areas. The eastern part of Indonesia could be a possible expansion area for lychee development.

[9] Director, Directorate of Fruit Crops, Ministry of Agriculture, Jl. Ragunan 19, Pasar Minggu, Jakarta, Indonesia

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