Lychees: high quality, low quantity

On Réunion island, the first lychees have made their appearance on the markets, along with the other fruits of the season, like the mango.

Last year had not been a favorable year for the sector. The prices, as high as 8 euros [9 USD] per kilo, had left many uninterested. This year, the prices are more reasonable (between 3 and 5 euros per kilo) [3.5 and 5.5 USD] and their quality is exceptional. However, much of the stock was affected by the Asian fruit flies and the tropical storm Fakir. “This year, there are more lychees in the West than in the East as a result of Fakir: the storm uprooted a lot of trees,” explained Jérôme Soubou, of the Chamber of Agriculture. “And then, the strong winds during the winter disrupted the flowering phase, giving us even fewer fruits.”

The lower prices can be explained by the social movements which prevented from selling the harvests as well as the export shipments. Stocks must be sold no matter the cost. As for the mangoes, their quantities were not affected and the stalls are well filled. The fruit flies, however, will have caused quite a bit of damage this year. These Asian flies, also known as Bactrocera dorsalis, lay their eggs in the fruits. The insect is fairly new to the Réunion island. Its first detrimental effects were detected in April 2017, mainly in the West of the island, in La Possession, La Grande Chaloupe, Le Port and Saint-Paul.

Today, it has colonized the entire coastline. They also attack jujubes, guavas, peppers, tomatoes and coffee. They can lay up to 1,500 eggs in just three weeks. “After the eggs are laid, larvae appear, which feed on the pulp of the fruit,” explains Jérôme Soubou. “This causes the fruit to rot. We can spot the black bitemarks and, at a more advanced stage, the sticky spots on the skin of the fruits.” The larvae leave the fruit after a few days and then transform into flies.

Some natural methods and tips are being used to try to rid the island of this plague. Precautions are necessary because the speed at which these Asian flies breed could cause significant losses.

Source : IP Reunion

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