The Great Controversy
Posted on: Monday, July 21, 2014 by Darryl McCullough
I may not know the sound of one hand clapping, but now I've heard the sound of many jaws dropping. During his informative talk at the July MRFC meeting, speaker Steve Cucura told us that genetic testing at UF has confirmed what some have suspected for a long time--- and many others have doubted: the Sweetheart lychee variety is actually the same as the Hak-Ip variety.
The identity of the Sweetheart variety is a topic that has generated a fair amount of controversy--- at time heated--- at the Tropical Fruit Forum. Many have noted that their Hak-Ip looks and behaves differently from their Sweetheart. Others point to the strong similarities, and attribute the observed differences to the myriad other factors that can affect a tree.
So finally it's settled, I thought, but my lychee reality was shaken again by the arrival of the July 18 newsletter from Top Tropicals. Their version: "When Hak-Ip first appeared on the market, we also got a little confused since the fruit appeared to be the same as the Sweetheart's [do they have the order of these reverse?]. Large fruit, almost seedless (tiny "chicken tongue" seed), same production habits - every other season, small crop, although fruit quality paid for that gap. Then we found out about University of Florida research proving DNA difference. These are two very similar varieties, with the only visible difference of darker leaves in Hak-Ip. So, if you buy Hak-Ip, you still will have a Sweetheart crop!"
The UF research, whatever it says, does not appear to be online yet. But using the Google machine I came across some interesting genetic research on variation in lychee cultivars. I'll report on those results, in due course, as we examine the controversy in the coming weeks.