PERCHED on top of a hill on Preston Rd, Yeppoon Lychees has been producing the delicious summer fruit for more than 20 years.
Owner Graham Welch harvests 10 varieties from 800 trees, including this year one called Erdonlea - a variety new to Australia that produces fruit two to three times the size of the more common varieties, with a delicious mild sweetness.
Each year, the farm produces between 1000kg and 15,000kg. Most lychee varieties produce a good crop one year and very little the next. And despite the nets and other measures used to protect the crops, pests can also have a large influence on production.
Lychee seasons starts in November and continues to the end of January, so it is not too late to enjoy Graham's fabulous local lychees. Most varieties ripen up in a three-week period, so it's a short season for those particular trees and it can be very intense picking the fruit as it ripens.
Graham maintains 10varieties to make the season last longer - early and mid-late season varieties ensure lychees can be enjoyed throughout November, December and January.
Lychees do not ripen after they are picked so it's a careful task to pick the ripe ones and leave the others to ripen up for later in the week when it's harvest time.
Yeppoon Lychees produces primarily for the local market, offering farmgate sales from the orchard on Preston Rd and attending local markets throughout the picking season.
Each year, The Waterline Restaurant visits the farmgate to source fresh local lychees for its summer menu.
"Lychees for us are the quintessential summer fruit," general manager Kylie Smith said.
"They are sweet and juicy and deliciously refreshing.
"We use lychees for cocktails, desserts and salads. They are great - particularly with duck.
"We freeze any so we can keep serving sorbets and frozen cocktails with lychee after the season has ended."
To celebrate lychee season, The Waterline is currently offering a three-course set menu for lunch and dinner featuring Graham's lychees.
"What better way to celebrate Australia Day than with some fantastic local Australian produce on the waterfront," Kylie said.
"My favourite way to eat lychees is all natural, fresh from the tree, but I will definitely be sampling these new dishes this week as well," Graham added.
Yeppoon Lychees are available at the farmgate on Preston Rd or local markets.
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