More than 100 years ago, people in Ha Dong area (Thanh Ha) discovered, cultivated, and multiplied early lychee trees so as to get bumper crops nowadays.
An over-100-year-old second-generation u hong lychee tree of Nguyen Van Chinh's family in Phuc Gioi hamlet, Thanh Quang commune
Dating back over 100 years
There are two kinds of Thanh Ha thieu lychee, early and late ones. Early thieu lychee is mainly planted in Ha Dong area. U hong lychee is the most well known and also most grown in Thanh Quang and Thanh Cuong communes. Some early thieu lychee trees are more than 100 years old.
According to many people, the first u hong lychee tree was planted by Le Dinh Thuy (dead) in Phuc Gioi hamlet, Thanh Quang commune.
Thuy's family members said in the past, Thuy took home a wild lychee tree he found, replanted it, and unexpectedly gained an u hong lychee tree yielding lush fruits.
After many years, the tree grew taller with wide canopies, leading to difficult harvest and care, so his family members grubbed up and sold the tree after having created many second- and third-generation seedlings.
There are two second-generation trees of the oldest early lychee tree in the garden of Nguyen Van Chinh's family in Phuc Gioi hamlet. Chinh said the two trees were also grown from branches asked of Thuy's family.
"Before I was born, the two lychee trees were already in the garden. At present, each of them is over 100 years old. A special thing is that despite their old ages, they still regularly yield fruits. Ripe fruits are fragrant, succulent, and sweet," said Chinh.
Previously, canopies of these two lychee trees covered more than one sao (360 m²) of garden land; however, harvest was too hard, so Chinh's family cut the tops of the trees.
Many owners of joiner's workshops wanted to buy Chinh's lychee trees but he refused. He said they were legacies from his forefathers, so he would never chop down or sell them. They are also the source of the present u hong lychee variety which has bettered his family's business.
At present, there are dozens of u hong lychee trees more than 100 years old in Thanh Quang commune. Compared to the ancestral thieu lychee tree in Thuy Lam hamlet, they are only about 35 years younger. Gastronomists often buy fruits of perennial plants.
Pham Duc Ban, Secretary of the Party Committee, Chairman of the People's Committee of Thanh Quang commune, said the soil of Ha Dong area really suits early lychee trees. There, lychee trees are often verdant and yield large and juicy fruits.
If this lychee variety is planted in other areas in the district like Ha Tay and Ha Bac, its quality will reduce. Thanh Ha people who go to live in other places also bring lychee trees along to do business but fruits are often more acrid. Therefore, early lychee fruits have become a specialty of Ha Dong area.
From Phuc Gioi hamlet, u hong early lychee was multiplied throughout Ha Dong area, especially since 1994, and grafted into present u gai and tau lai lychee varieties by farmers.
Nowadays, Thanh Quang commune has the most early lychee trees in Thanh Ha district with more than 700 ha, followed by Thanh Cuong commune with over 250 ha.
Early lychee in Ha Dong area has never devalued, so many people got rich thanks to early lychee cultivation. This year, the yield of early lychee is estimated at over 20,000 tons with an average selling price of about VND35,000/ kg.
"Previously, having two lychee trees was as valuable as having a tael of gold. One could buy a television from more than a ton of fruits harvested from one lychee tree, which was very valuable," said Chinh.
To date, Chinh's family has grown more than one mau (3,600 m²) of early lychee in a converted garden. Each year, his family earns hundreds of million dong from the lychee variety.
Trinh Xuan Cuong's family in Vinh Ninh hamlet, Thanh Cuong commune, has more than one mau of early lychee. Cuong said early lychee is highly priced but difficult to care for.
To make trees regularly yield fruits every year, he often has to improve his experience to overcome unusual phenomena of the weather. He also always applies a scientific lychee care process ensuring quality.
Hence, every year, lychee of Cuong's family is sold at high prices. He annually earns more than VND300 million, sometimes nearly VND600 million, enough for his family to build a new house.
Aside from high prices, early lychee is often favorably exported to China and consumed in large cities like Ha Noi, Hai Phong, and Ho Chi Minh city.
This year, despite adverse impacts of the Covid-19 epidemic on export of agricultural products to foreign markets, early lychee fruits are still being favorably exported.
According to the People's Committee of Thanh Quang commune, Bac Tom clean food system (Ha Noi) daily buys 2 – 3 tons of early lychee. All lychee fruits in Thanh Cuong commune are purchased by traders right after harvest.
In addition to multiplying the lychee variety throughout the region, Ha Dong people always pay attention to improving the quality of lychee fruits and applying VietGAP process to production.
All early lychee areas have been cultivated under this process. Therefore, the quality of lychee fruits is always highly appreciated, creating a reputation in the market.
Ngo Ba Dinh, Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Thanh Ha district, affirmed that early lychee is highly economically valuable. The district authorities will maintain more than 1,500 hectares of early lychee and encourage people to keep a number of early lychee trees with long history. That will be evidence of the origin of today's early lychee trees.