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Avocado orchard conversion block with bore water rights placed on the market for sale

A former small-scale dairy farm and maize cropping block set up for conversion into a commercial-sized avocado orchard has been placed on the market for sale.

The 95.8-hectare property at Waiharara, some 28-kilometres north of Kaitaia, was originally established to run as a dairying unit bolstered by the capacity to produce economic levels of stock feed.

However, a decade of cumulative economic, legislative, and environmental changes have motivated the Waiharara, property owners to sell up their dairying interests and the land which previously sustained the dairying-related activities.

Consequently, the freehold property at Lot 2 Far north Road is now being marketed for sale by tender through Bayleys Whangarei, with tenders closing on April 30. Rural sales specialist Vinni Bhula said the pending Far North avocado orchard conversion block reflected New Zealand’s primary production sector – where smaller producers were looking at more profitable alternative land uses.

“With small dairy farms becoming increasingly uneconomic to farm and operate over the past decade, combined with mounting compliance and environmental pressures and drought conditions become more prevalent in Northland, the decision was made in the middle of last year to sell the dairy herd off this block,” Mr Bhula said.

“With several properties in the immediate vicinity now operating as full-scale commercial avocado orchards, it was an obvious choice to turn the land over to avocado production – especially taking into consideration the flat to gently rolling contour of the property, water availability, its base of sandy soils, and the area being recognised for its consistent annual production.

“These benefits are compounded by the property having consent to put down two bores to draw up to 1,500 cubic metres of water per day for irrigation, with a staged increase in allocation over a four year period – thereby alleviating any operational pressures which could result from future drought conditions in the region. “Given the size of the land holding, a reservoir could also be built for additional water storage,” Mr Bhula said.

Building infrastructure on the property consists of a four-bay open-sided hay shed, a lockable implement shed and workshop, and an enclosed three-bay hay shed.

Mr Bhula said that based on what other similar developments had achieved in the Far North, latest avocado orchard planting methods, and root-stock selection, and management systems would allow for commercial production of fruit off the block to begin within three seasons.

“The high-density method of avocado planting has proven to be highly successful in the Far North – with conservative yields of between 10 to 15-tonnes per hectare being achieved on three to four-year old trees in the region, and harvests of 20 tonnes per hectare or more now being the benchmark for orchards with trees aged five-years or older,” he said.

“Primary producing entities on the Aupouri Peninsula have proven that avocados grow well in this location - where the average annual rainfall is in the region of 1,200-millimetres, and the average annual temperature is 16.2 degrees Celsius.”

Mr Bhula said the undeveloped predominantly flat Far North Road property would be attractive to both new entrants into the avocado growing sector, and to existing operators looking to increase their presence and capacity in the region.

“The avocado industry is now well established in Northland with good supporting infrastructure and post-harvest facilities from Whangarei to the Far North. Anyone thinking about avocados on a large scale, the Far North is the place to be,” Mr Bhula said.

“Newer clonal avocado root stocks such as Bounty, Dusa, Latas and SR-1 have brought a new dynamic to the industry – being of higher phytophthora tolerance, more uniform growth pattern, more vigorous, and earlier production, resulting in a better overall orchard.

“With the Far North Road Avocado conversion property being ‘from scratch’, a well-defined and strategic management plan could be implemented utilising the latest industry growing techniques and technology that goes with it. The technology that is now available is truly amazing and also makes the compliance side of things easier.”

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