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9 January, 2020

The holy grail of Lychees.

The holy grail of Lychees.

By Phil Brandel

One North Queensland farmer has grown what could be considered the holy grail of Lychees.

Tibby Dixon has left the traditional path of growing trees solely for fruit, instead, he develops and sells young plants for other farmers to grow.

But the pick of the crop is the seedless variety that he has been propagating from a single tree imported from China.

"The cultivar variety itself is a medium-sized fruit, with no seed." Mr Dixon told the ABC

"It's very different to all the other cultivars we have."

Mr Dixon, who is based at Sarina Beach near Mackay, has harvested only a few kilograms of the seedless fruit from the trees this year and has preferred to focus on growing the trees to establish more plants.

The ABC reports that Mr Dixon has developed multiple lychee varieties, and the process involves both selective breeding and cross-pollinating flowers by hand over several generations of trees.

"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 somewhere down the line, you get something with a small seed, and from there you cross-pollinate again.

"By chance, you might end up with a seedless lychee."

Lychee Tibby Dixon has worked in the lychee industry for over 40 years. (Photo credit ABC Rural Melanie Groves)

The variety is still in the early stages of development and is yet to be planted on a commercial scale.

Mr Dixon is in the process of growing a crop of trees which will one-day bear fruit on Australian farms.

"Within a couple of years we should have enough to sell out in commercial numbers," he told the ABC

Mr Dixon's trial varieties are grown until a fruit-bearing age, and then the crop is trialled to ensure consistent productivity.

"It's been a long, hard slog," he said.

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