"It's been a long, hard slog"
ABC reports that an Australian farmer has successfully produced seedless lychees after decades of work.
Tibby Dixon bought a lychee tree from China for AUD $5,000 a couple of decades ago and began modifying the fruit’s DNA.
By gathering pollen from the male part of the lychee flower, Dixon used the Chinese tree to combine it with the female part of the flower.
After 19 years of cultivation, the North Queensland farmer achieved cultivating a seedless form of the delicious fruit.
The process is done by hand and requires a lot of trial and error according to ABC.
Dixon told the news outlet that its success lies in a “a combination of selective breeding and cross-pollinating flowers, which takes generations of trees to complete.”
“The cultivar [variety] itself is a medium-sized fruit, no seed, very flavoursome,” he explained.
“To me, it actually tastes like it has a bit of pineapple in it – that’s what my tastebuds tell me. It’s very different to all the other cultivars we have.”
Dixon has only harvested a few kg of the seedless fruit but has developed multiple lychee varieties through selective breeding and cross-pollination.
“First of all you have to start off with a really good cultivar, and then you get on with it and you keep cross-pollinating it,” he said.
“[Then] hopefully somewhere down the line you can actually get something with a small seed, and from there you cross-pollinate again.
“By chance you might end up with a seedless lychee.”
Looking in to the future, Dixon says he should be able to start selling seedless lychees commercially within a few years.
“Within a couple of years we should have enough to sell out in commercial numbers,” he said. “It’s been a long, hard slog.”