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Hainan company hopes for hit with homegrown durian

Updated: China Daily
The Hainan Youqi Agricultural Company held a durian tasting on Aug 16 in its plantation in the Yucai Ecological Zone of Sanya. [Photo by CHEN BOWEN/for chinadaily.com.cn]

"Wow, it looks delicious!" one taster exclaimed as Ma Yuzhong, an employee at the Hainan Youqi Agricultural Company, split open a ripe durian that had just fallen from a tree in the company's plantation in the Yucai Ecological Zone of Sanya, Hainan province.

With a fresh yet mild fragrance and glistening yellow pulp, the Sanya durian, China's first homegrown variety, looks and tastes a bit different from its Southeast Asian counterparts. Unlike other types, its rind is yellow-green, and its pulp is not slimy, but rather a bit chewy and delicate. Its pulp does not stick to its shell, its core or people's hands.

"The average amount of sugar in a Sanya durian exceeds 38 grams, making it twice as sweet as lychee," said Du Baizhong, the company's general manager and president of the Hainan Durian Association.

Durian that are unripe when picked and then ripen while being transported usually have 25 to 30 grams of sugar each.

Du noted that the biggest advantage of Sanya durian production is that they ripen naturally on the tree, unlike other commercialized varieties, and they have a high proportion of pulp.

"We let them ripen and fall to the ground naturally without using any artificial methods to accelerate the process. When durian begin to mature, they release ethylene, which allows the spiky fruit to ripen from the inside out, so its texture is not sticky and its scent is less intense," he explained.

Wen Chao, founder of the Wenji Durian brand, tasted five Sanya durian on July 25. He said two of the five exceeded his expectations.

"Given that the trees are only 3 years old, even in Southeast Asia, this fruit would be considered world-class," he said.

Feng Xuejie, director of the tropical fruit tree research institute of the Hainan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told China Newsweek that Hainan introduced durian trees from Malaysia in 1958, but due to the lack of management, they only bore one fruit, and some began to question whether Hainan was suitable for plantation.


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