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Litchee, Litchi chinensis / Sapindaceae
Postharvest Atmosphere Management
Litchees are very sensitive and highly perishable if they lack cooling. In less than 24 hours at 20-30ºC they loose their colour and afterwards they rot, so it is very important to keep them cool almost until their consumption. The suitable conditions are 2ºC and 90 to 95% of moisture. If they are kept in trays covered with plastic film, they may last up to 4 weeks. Some countries use sulphuric acid or sulphur dioxide treatments for long distance transport, although the preoccupation for the residues of these products is increasing.

The use of controlled atmosphere reduces the browning of the skin and the loss of soluble solids in the fruit. A concentration of 3-5% of oxygen and carbon dioxide is recommendable.
Postharvest Problems
Among the problems that litchees undergo during their storage stand out the browning of the skin, chilling injuries, breaking of the skin or the pulp deterioration. Among the diseases we find diverse fungi, like Alternaria or Aspegillus.

Browning of the skin: the loss of water causes the growth of brown spots in the surface of the litchee. With low moisture conditions the spots grow and cover all the fruit. This problem is practically solved by covering the packages with plastic films.

Chilling injuries: the symptoms are similar to the previous problem; they occur at extremely low temperatures.

Breaking of the skin: it depends on the variety and the levels of moisture during storage. The cracks in the skin favour the attack of pathogens.

Pulp deterioration: during long periods of storage and in extremely mature fruits there occur some problems of softening and loss of firmness of the pulp, that looses taste as well.

Among the diseases, we find the ones produced by the fungi Alternaria, Aspergillus, Botryodiplodia and Colletotrichum. The damages are reduced if the fruit is maintained in satisfactory conditions of moisture and temperature.
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