Entomologist Peter Follett inspects a panicle of
ripening lychee fruit for insect damage. Click the image for more
information about it.
story to find out more.
Foils Lychee and Longan Insect Foes
By Marcia Wood
May 4, 2004
Two exotic tropical fruits--lychee and
its smaller cousin, longan--have sweet, slightly firm flesh with a pleasing
texture that's been likened to that of a fresh, peeled grape. A packinghouse
procedure developed by the Agricultural
Research Service for preparing these tropical fruits for shipment from
Hawaii to mainland U.S. supermarkets doesn't harm that delightful texture or
At the same time, the process ensures that each lychee (also spelled litchi)
or longan is free of live insect pests such as the litchi fruit moth or
oriental fruit fly. If these insects were to stow away in shipments, they could
pose a threat to crops in other warm-weather states.
ARS entomologist Peter A. Follett and colleagues designed, built and tested
a twin-tank system that provides a hot-water bath to kill the insects, followed
by a cooling bath to prevent spoilage and protect the fruit's flavor and
fragrance. He's with the agency's
U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural
Research Center in Hilo, Hawaii.
The unit features submerged, plastic conveyor belts studded with rubber
cleats. These tracks take fruit smoothly in and out of the heating and cooling
The hot-water tank is calibrated precisely to meet federal requirement that
the fruit be submerged for 20 minutes in water heated to 120 degree F. The work
by Follett's team gives growers a proven, practical way to meet this
requirement, which was established in 1997.
Follett worked with Glenn McHam of MMG Manufacturing, Inc., a Fresno, Calif,
commercial equipment fabricator; John White, a Fresno designer of agricultural
equipment; and Mike Strong, owner of Kahili Farms, Kilauea, Hawaii. One of
Hawaii's premier growers and packers of tropical fruit, Kahili Farms is in the
final stages of obtaining federal approval for the unit.
more about this research in the May issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.