Limited partnership to produce distinctive summerfruit

Leading New Zealand horticultural specialist Hortinvest and the sheep and beef producers behind Central Otago's Ardgour Station have established a limited partnership to produce apricots and cherries for export in early 2023.

Hortinvest's Ross and Sharon Kirk and Ardgour Station owners Bruce and Linda Jolly have joined forces to establish Ardgour Valley Orchards Limited Partnership (AVO).

Orchard and project manager Ross Kirk said AVO spanned 38 hectares within Ardgour Station, Tarras, with two thirds of the orchard set aside to produce new apricot varieties. The rest has been allocated for a mix of red and white-fleshed cherry production.

Point of difference focuses on specialty varieties

New apricot varieties NZ Summer 2, 3 and 4 have been bred by Plant and Food Research at its Clyde site, Central Otago and are being commercialised for the first time. A white-fleshed cherry variety will complement the stonefruit line-up which also includes red-fleshed cherries.

Approximately 9,000 apricot trees and 1,200 cherry trees were planted in winter 2020, with additional plantings of 6,000 apricot trees and 7,000 cherry trees scheduled for 2021 and 2022.

Mr Kirk said the site comprised well-irrigated grasslands and mountainous high country and was ideal for summerfruit production.

"Ardgour Station is positioned in a long, fertile valley with plentiful irrigation and ideal growing degree days. It's surrounded by exquisite mountains and set on a family owned and run property in the heart of the Central Otago growing region - all key to growing superb fruit for export customers, particularly in Asia," he said.

"Cherries are a high value crop and there's growing demand from Asia for New Zealand's crop. Our unique market position leading up to Chinese New Year allows cherries to achieve a consistently high price.

"These new apricots were bred for New Zealand growing conditions. They're colourful, firm, sweet and full of flavour - attributes our customers are asking for. Their bright colour is perfect for the Asian market. It's an opportunity to produce an outstanding flavoured fruit - it's what a true apricot should be."

Ardgour Valley Orchards NZ LP
Caption: Ardgour Valley Orchards will send its first fruit to market in 2023. Click on image to download high res image.

Landowner diversifies into horticulture

Bruce Jolly, whose family has bred merino sheep and cattle at Ardgour Station since 1955, said he became interested in diversifying the station's land use into horticulture after a study in 2000 found much of the property was climatically suited to stonefruit production.

Hortinvest was commissioned in 2016 to conduct a feasibility study to develop a portion of land for orchards, he said.

"This followed extensive irrigation development in which we increased the station's watered area from 90 to 500 hectares and took it from flood irrigation to pivot irrigation," Mr Jolly said.

"The Tarras region has one of the driest climates in Central Otago with an average rainfall of 450mm. Although much of the station was deemed suitable, the site chosen has the best attributes including the nature of its contours, drainage ability and that it is frost-free."

Mr Jolly said horticulture was one of the few sectors where the producer could maintain control of the product from orchard to consumer and he was looking forward to being part of New Zealand's horticulture success story.

"It's exciting to be producing something so sought-after and special. Apricot quality in New Zealand can be inconsistent and we're confident these new varieties will shake up the industry and appeal to global consumers."

Hortinvest will manage AVO's orchard and harvest and export operations.

AVO is the latest orchard development undertaken by Hortinvest in Central Otago. Its other developments include Tarras Cherry Corp which will harvest its first commercial cherries this summer and Deep Creek Fruits NZ LP - a significant enterprise which is developing cherry orchards at Lindis Peaks and Mt Pisa.

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Located in Central Otago, New Zealand, Hortinvest Ltd is the leading consultant in New Zealand's emerging and highly profitable cherry and horticulture industry. Hortinvest employs world-leading orchard management and packhouse systems to produce and export premium New Zealand cherries.

(Issued: December 8, 2020)

Issued by Aqua Public Relations on behalf of Hortinvest Limited. For more information, please contact:

Sharon Kirk
Sales and marketing manager
Hortinvest Limited
(02) 7484 5099

OR
Toni Lucke
Aqua Public Relations
+61 7 3312 2505

Email Toni>