A pioneering orchard in the Waikato growing the niche crop of persimmons – where most of the New Zealand harvest is exported around the Pacific – has been placed on the market for sale.
The four-hectare property in the north Waikato– known as Long Ridge orchard - has been growing persimmons commercially since the mid-1980s, and was among the forefront of such landholdings to begin producing persimmon in New Zealand.
When Long Ridge began producing persimmons, just 20 tonnes of the fruit was exported. By 1989 that export figure had grown substantially to 400 tonnes, and by the early 2000s the export volume had reached 12,800 tonnes – a figure which has remained relatively consistent over the intervening period.
The Long Ridge orchard property at 811 Hakarimata Road produces an average of some 60 tonnes of persimmons annually - equivalent to 15,100 trays – over the past three seasons. The orchard’s 2017/18 harvest generated a gross income of $220,547 from the 2.3 canopy hectare orchard.
The Long Ridge property is planted with the fuyu variety of persimmon, which is the most common variety grown in New Zealand because of its non-astringent taste, which means it can be eaten while still crisp. Persimmon fruit grown in New Zealand matures in April and May – with the resulting export season running through to the end of July.
Now the freehold orchard and supporting infrastructure and buildings at 811 Hakarimata Road are being marketed for sale by negotiation through Bayleys Hamilton. Salespeople Peter Kelly and Karl Davis said fruit grown at the orchard was sent to an industry recognized pack-house in north Auckland, where the focus is on export markets with the remainder sent to domestic market.
The Long Ridge orchard has consistently benefitted from outstanding husbandry - with its persimmon crop protected from winds by established shelter belts around its perimeter. The orchard is on sandy loam soils and a professionally recommended fertilizer program is followed.
Irrigation on the property is supplied from a consented 13 metre bore, with water pumped around the orchard through main 50 mm main lines and 13 mm lateral feeders. The orchard is situated in a picturesque valley next to the Waikato River.
Mr Kelly said buildings supporting the orchard’s activities and featured in the package for sale, included:
• A 160 square metre four-bedroom/two-bathroom brick and weatherboard home with swimming pool
• A three-bay steel-clad implement shed with concrete flooring, lockable tool storage area, and toilet facility
• A steel-clad spray storage shed and
• A brick and timber irrigation pump shed.
Mr Kelly said machinery packaged in the business sale includes Ferrari orchard tractor, crop sprayer, weed sprayer, fertilizer spreader, mower, picking, pruning equipment, plus irrigation pumps and controls.
Long Ridge orchard has produced consistently for a number of seasons, using proven growing and plant management systems, supplying an international export marketing company. Overseas demand for NZ persimmons has not yet been fully satisfied.
Situated near other small landholdings, there is the potential to either purchase or lease other land in the vicinity to increase output using existing plant and equipment.
Virtually all of New Zealand’s persimmon crop is grown in the upper North Island – with Gisborne being the biggest production region, other orchards are situated around Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay. Growers are represented by the Persimmon Industry Council.
Approximately 75 percent of New Zealand’s persimmon crop is exported. Markets include Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand with more recent access into China and USA.