Current levy-funded R&D for the lychee industry has a focus on export development and strong communication, to support skills and knowledge building. Read more in the R&D snapshot below. To discover how the industry’s marketing levy will be put to use in the upcoming season, check out the marketing snapshot.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

The selection process for appointing an independent chair for the lychee Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) has recently been completed. Information on the SIAP chair will be made available on Hort Innovation’s Lychee grower page shortly. The page will also continue to make available summaries from the SIAP’s meetings.

The Strategic Investment Plan

A Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) is the roadmap that helps ensure levy investment decisions align with individual industry priorities. It is used to guide decision-making in levy spending, and represents a balanced view of stakeholders in the industry.

Hort Innovation is currently consulting with growers and other industry stakeholders to finalise new SIPs for each industry by the end of the calendar year.

To learn more about the SIP process, visit Hort Innovation’s SIP Portal.

Any questions?

As well as the Lychee grower page, Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Astrid Hughes is always available to answer questions on the lychee program. For questions relating specifically to the industry’s marketing, contact Hort Innovation Marketing Lead Graeme Yardy.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Industry communication through Living Lychee (LY14000)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? Involving the production of journal Living Lychee, this project plays a vital role in keeping growers up-to-date with relevant information, issues and R&D work related to the industry.

What’s the latest update? Living Lychee continues to be published and distributed to the Australian Lychee Growers Association mailing list, with PDF versions available for download on the industry website, www.australianlychee.com.au.

An industry survey for feedback on the publication has also been created, which can be taken here.

This project also involves maintenance of the industry website, with the uploading of practical content and other key information.


lychee-living-lychee

An issue of Living Lychee


 

US market access project (LY15001)

Status: Ongoing project

What’s it all about? With Australian lychees given the green light to enter the mainland United States in 2013 (with the exception of Florida), this trial pilot program is working to open up this new export market. It involves a range of work, including:

  • Reviewing and modifying the Operational Work Plan for the program, which defines the requirements for the irradiation treatment protocol for lychees to assure biological security against designated pests
  • Developing summaries on pests and diseases of quarantine concern, as well as chemicals and maximum residue limits
  • Developing pest monitoring guides
  • Sourcing and submitting packaging approval with relevant authorities
  • Grower registration and auditing.

What’s the latest update? The 2015/16 season was the first year of the trial. No new milestone report was due in the period since the last edition of Hortlink (Winter 2016). At the time of last reporting:

  • Two export agents, 10 growers and two US importers had been involved in the initial season.
  • Grower guides had been developed and distributed to growers and agents. The guides included information on pest and diseases of quarantine concern, as well as chemicals and maximum residue limits, and are available through the Australian Lychee Growers Association.
  • Pest monitor training was undertaken in four key growing areas (Mareeba, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Sunshine Coast).
  • US importers visited Australia to view a number or lychee orchards.

Fruit was not exported to the US in this first year, and the issue of permitted Australian chemicals not allowed in the US was further highlighted.

Ensuring sufficient chemicals are approved for use in lychee and are compatible both in Australia and the US is a focus for the program, with the aim that year two of the program will deliver fruit to the US.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Running from December to March, the 2016/17 marketing activity for lychees will mark the fourth year of the ‘Love from Lychees’ campaign.

This season’s activity will continue to build on the messages and relationships developed in previous seasons, and showcase Australian lychees as the perfect guilt-free indulgence.

Activities in the campaign will:

  • Celebrate and drum up excitement for the lychee season
  • Showcase the versatility of lychees, and how they can be enjoyed in a variety of recipes
  • Continue to make the idea of the ‘me-time moment’ synonymous with lychees, following the success of last season’s #metimemoment social media activity.

Social media will continue to be a focus for the campaign, with the Australian Lychees Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AussieLychees) being used to educate and engage consumers, and Instagram (@aussielychees) engaging and delivering inspiration. Season information, top tips, serving suggestions, lychee growers and a competition will be delivered via these platforms.

Point-of-sale kits for retailers are also ready to be sent out.

GROWER PROFILE

IAN GROVES, GROVES GROWN TROPICAL FRUIT, QLD

Ian Groves planted his first lychees in 1982, starting out with a modest 250 trees. Almost 35 years on and his Yeppoon farm has some 5000 trees, a strong market presence, a booming social media following and innovative growing techniques that continue to boost efficiencies.

“Back when I started out I’d just taken over the family farm from my father, who had grown pineapples. The land was getting tired of the monoculture, so I decided to try three new crops: avocados, mangoes and lychees,” Ian said. “It was still early days in the Australian lychee industry, but I picked them because people said they were an easy crop to grow, with few pests and diseases. I have a laugh because that didn’t turn out to be quite right, but I wouldn’t change anything. They’re an exciting fruit and there’s a lot of desire in the market for them. And when people find out you grow lychees, you suddenly find yourself with a lot of new friends!”

Despite what was promised, crop protection from “birds, bats and a million insects that want to eat the crop” remains a big challenge, Ian said. “We had permanent netting to keep out the birds and bats, but in last year’s cyclone Marcia they were torn down and really decimated the property, which we’ve been replanting.”

The new trees, like those before them, are planted high-density style. “We’ve got growing techniques here at the moment that most other growers aren’t yet using. As well as high-density planting, we maintain our newest plantings at a low height so that you can stand on the ground and pick them right up to the top. It’s safer and much more efficient,” Ian said. “We also have everything on drip irrigation, so we use a lot less water. In farming, you’ve got to always be alert to ways of doing things cheaper and more efficiently.”

As far as managing insect pests, Ian has been looking forward to the recently-released guide to fruitspotting bug, produced through one of Hort Innovation’s multi-industry projects. “The lychee industry was one of the project’s contributors along with the macadamia, avocado, papaya, custard apple and passionfruit industries, and I was part of the committee overseeing it,” said Ian, who is on the executive team of the Australian Lychee Growers Association. “The guide is packed with practical advice for growers. It’s not just ‘go and spray with this stuff’ or ‘put this bait out’ – there’s a full guide to recognising the bug and monitoring it in the orchard, a whole section on trap crops, important information of area wide management and loads more.”

Another R&D output Ian is particularly keen on addresses the fact that lychee skin dehydrates and browns very quickly. “At the retail level this quirk of lychees can be problematic, but one of the really great projects that we’ve had in the last few years with Hort Innovation has involved the development of retail-ready packaging that keeps the fruit red. It’s a special box with a clear plastic window above the fruit, with a little message on it along the lines of ‘keep closed to keep fresh,” Ian said.

“We’ve had the boxes for about three years now and more and more they’re being looked for in the market. In fact, while my Sydney wholesaler was sceptical at first, now he says buyers are looking specifically for our lychees because they’re in that retail-ready box. It allows the retailers to get better value out of the fruit, keeps consumers happy and making repeat purchases, and of course this keeps the value up for growers as well.”

When it comes to keeping consumers happy, Ian has another ace up his sleeve – savvy use of social media. “About three years ago we started the business’s Instagram account (@grovesgrowntropicalfruit), which now has over 1900 followers. More recently we also started the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/grovesgrowntropicalfruit). Our intention in using these channels is to put a positive image of farming out to the general public. We show them what’s happening on the farm, how the fruit is grown, and just make that connection with them. They love seeing how their food is produced. Like everything else that looks good and promising in horticulture, I’d encourage other growers to give it a go. It’s important to stay alert to the changing times.”

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