South Florida Tropical Fruits Update

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Pictured are lychees.

By Clint Thompson

It soon will be an exciting time for tropical fruit producers in South Florida. Alan Chambers, plant geneticist at UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center, said many of the region’s tropical fruits should start producing their crop before long.

“A lot of our tropical fruits do struggle in the winter. They’re a little more dormant, calm. Coming into the spring and summer is when most of them start yielding the delicious crops,” Chambers said. “We’ve got mangoes coming on next month. We’ll see star fruit; we’ll see passion fruit. We’ve already harvested this year’s vanilla, and now we’re pollinating for next year’s vanilla. Now is an exciting time; from the middle of the summer towards the end of the summer.”

As with most crops, the tropical fruits’ success is largely dependent on the weather.

“We’ve had a number of great years for weather. Generally, if we can stay above freezing, we’ll see a lot of productivity in most of the crops. Mango is going to do well this year. A number of other crops, they do well year over year,” Chambers said. “Lychee this year is actually going to be doing better than it has. That one is kind of hit or miss. It should be a good year for lychee in south Florida because of the even chill we had this last winter.”