New Zealand horticultural investment company, Hortinvest, has planted the first 12 hectares at its $15.5 million Lindis River cherry project in Central Otago after four cornerstone investors committed to underwrite stage one planting. Stage two will be undertaken in winter 2020 when a further 23,000 trees will be planted.

Marketing and sales manager, Sharon Kirk, said investors included traditional sheep and beef landowners Lucy Annan and Simon Maling of Lindis Peaks Station. The project spans 80 hectares. The first fruit is expected to be harvested in the summer of 2021-2022.

Negotiations are underway with several large corporate investors from New Zealand and overseas. “It’s an exciting milestone to plant the first 7,500 trees at Lindis River. We’re pleased these investors had the foresight to get the project underway while we continue to finalize other applications,” Kirk said.

She said winter planting was critical for optimal cherry production outcomes. “It’s best to plant when trees are dormant and the effects of transplanting are minimal,” she said.

Investing in the Lindis River cherry project is a first for Lindis Peaks Station farmers Lucy Annan and Simon Maling. The family business, which has a 109-year tradition in sheep and beef farming, has identified horticulture as a means to diversify the business and create opportunities for the future.

“We were very pleased to see the first stage of planting get underway and the orchard begin to take shape. In just a few days the paddock which had cattle on it was transformed with thousands of cherry trees,” Maling said.

“Since we decided to invest in horticulture a year ago, it has been an exciting ride and we’re looking forward to being part of the cherry story in Central Otago.”

Water is piped from the Clutha River via the farm’s dam to water the crop.

Investors have until September 27 to finalize their applications, and there’s still time for new investors to come aboard, Kirk said.

“Now’s the time for new investors seeking entry into the horticultural investment space or looking for sustainable, long-term, high-return investments which can span generations to buy in.

“As the Chinese proverb says, ‘the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now,'” she said.

Hortinvest’s second Central Otago project at Mt. Pisa is also making progress with land preparation underway and stage one planting set to begin next week.

Under its business model, Hortinvest sources land, establishes orchards and packhouses, exports and markets produce, retaining all services in-house under the leadership of experienced horticulturalists and cherry marketers Ross and Sharon Kirk.

Large dairy farm converts into kiwifruit orchard

Craigmore Sustainables, a New Zealand owned and controlled business set up to help fund development and grow regional NZ food and fibre businesses, has announced it will invest $38 million to convert 137ha of established dairy farm at Kerikeri into a kiwifruit orchard. This will increase local kiwifruit production by at least one third and create 29 full-time equivalent jobs. The project is approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).

The Kerikeri move follows recent approval from the OIO to buy land in Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne where Craigmore is investing $52m to develop apple orchards which will offer almost 100 full-time equivalent jobs. It expects to boost NZ exports by $30m.

These investments are part of the company’s Permanent Crop business, which is expanding and diversifying horticulture in key central and northern regions.


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