A substantial blueberry orchard with its own commercial processing plant and refrigerated pack-house – producing one of the rarest but highest-yielding blueberry crops in New Zealand – has been placed on the market for sale.
The 8.8-hectare property at Gordonton in the Waikato features some eight hectares of blueberry plantings under canopy cover, along with buildings, equipment, and plant used for picking, sorting, packing and chilling blueberries.
Planted on peat soil and regularly fertilised, the orchard has some 15,000 trees – including 500 of the new Jaac variety of blueberry which produces a heavier-yielding crop than traditional clones. Other blueberry varieties grown in the orchard include Powder Blue, Tiff Blue, Centra Blue, O’Neal, Sunset, and Velluto.
Cropped between December and March, some 80 percent of New Zealand’s blueberry crop is grown in the Waikato region. Over the 2017/2018 harvest, the Gordonton orchard being marketed for sale picked 59,042 kilogrammes of blueberries.
Production calculations for the orchard show that cropping numbers almost doubling to 114,868 kilogrammes in the 2020/2021 season and reaching a forecast of 176,442 kilogrammes of harvestable fruit in the 2024/25 season.
Now the freehold blueberry plantation, supporting building infrastructure, crop maintenance equipment and processing plant at 819 Woodlands Road in Gordonton is being marketed for sale as a going concern by tender through Bayleys Hamilton, with tenders closing at 2pm on October 19.
Bayleys Hamilton salesperson Mike Fraser-Jones said the orchard produced export-quality fruit, belonging to the BerryCo NZ marketing alliance which had utilised a highly-efficient supplier reconciliation system.
Mr Fraser-Jones said the orchard initiated a major replanting schedule in 2015 - which saw low-yielding Maru and Rahi trees pulled out and replaced with 5421 Centra and Jaac trees.
“The planting of Jaac trees has significantly improved the position of this farm and given it a competitive advantage of being one of only three orchards in New Zealand which has the capacity to supply Jaac berries for export,” Mr Fraser-Jones said.
“The Jaac variety produces berries about the size of a $2 coin – far bigger than more traditional-sized blueberries. While older varieties of blueberry yield between two – four kilogrammes of crop per plant, the Jaac plantings at the Gordonton orchard are already cropping 12 kilogrammes of fruit per tree, with indications that number will increase even further – peaking at about 15 kilogrammes of berry per tree.
“Not only is the Jaac bigger than older varieties, but it has more flavor and taste sensation in the mouth. BerryCo is very excited about the Jaac and forecast strong global demand for the new strain because of its size and flavor which can command a premium price ahead of other stock.
“The orchard crops multiple varieties of blueberries to ensure a ‘conveyor belt’ of ripening periods throughout the growing season - rather than having all stock peak at the same time,” Mr Fraser-Jones said.
“Any new owner operator can continue with this successful production strategy or implement the current owner’s plan of steadily converting a greater percentage of plantings to the higher yielding Jaac variety.”
Building infrastructure on the orchard includes a purpose-built high-stud processing plant accessible through two large roller doors, an adjacent cool store shed lined with refrigeration paneling and chiller rooms, and an open-sided three-bay farm vehicle and equipment barn.
Business chattels in the sale include the commercial-grade sorting and packaging conveyor lines, and a substantial catalogue of heavy-duty vehicles, machinery and equipment for picking and moving stock throughout the tree to delivery truck process. The property also includes a substantial 280 square metre five-bedroom owner/manager’s residence.
“A graveled race runs through the spine of the plantings to enable both easy plant maintenance throughout the year, and efficient harvesting in the picking season. The ease of access throughout the property is bolstered by the totally flat topography of the land.”
The Gordonton orchard is completely surrounded by four-metre tall hedging to protect the crops and netting inside from adverse weather conditions. Irrigation water for the whole property is drawn from a deep bore.