The longan (Dimocarpus longan) is a tree that belongs to the family of the sapindaceae, which includes other species with edible fruits, such as the pulasan or rambutan. Its fruit is also called longan.
Longan and litchi are two species that are very close at the genetic level. Both are also fruits in high demand by the Asian population in Europe.
According to the Institute of Subtropical and Mediterranean Horticulture (IHSM) La Mayora, the longan is a crop that adapts very well to our area and which can be a good complement to increase the diversity of tropical fruit crops in the province and in Andalusia.
"We have tried different varieties and we have more under study, but at the moment, the best ones are the chom-poo, biew khiew and khoala. We are able to harvest the fruit between November and March," explained researcher Iñaki Hormaza.
The longan from Malaga is a seasonal fruit and has the great advantage of having a longer post-harvest shelf life than litchi.
Since it is produced between November and March, there are no other fruit crops competing against it in Europe, with the exception of apples and pears.
Furthermore, it is one of the fruits with the most vitamin C and does not need any type of chemical treatment for its shelf life to be extended. Also, according to Iñaki Hormaza, the longan tree yields a greater production than the litchi, which can make it attractive for the producer.
The IHSM La Mayora has been carrying out tests in its experimental farm in Algarrobo for years with litchi and longan, two fruits that can be grown in the province, as well as with other tropical fruits, including avocados or mangoes.
As far as litchi is concerned, the varieties that have adapted the best to the area are the Bengal, Kwai-may-pink, Salathiel and Wai-chee. This fruit is better known in the province, especially in the Axarquía, because some producers already tried to grow them commercially in the 1990's in some farms, but without any previous research. They used the Mauritius variety, which doesn't adapt well to this area and it was found not to be productive. This caused other producers to lose all interest.