A multi-million dollar venture to further develop Central Otago’s cherry industry has taken root.
New Zealand horticultural investment company, Hortinvest, has planted the first 12 hectares at its $15.5 million Lindis River cherry project in Lindis Valley after four investors committed to underwrite stage one planting. Winter planting is reported as critical for optimal cherry production outcomes.
A further 23,000 trees will be planted in winter 2020 as part of the project’s stage two. Harvest of the first fruit is expected in the summer of 2021 to 2022.
One of the investors is Lindis Peaks Station, a first for station farmers Lucy Annan and Simon Maling. The merino sheep and beef cattle farming business is changing the use of their land as they diversify into horticulture. Under the new plan, the station, family owned for four generations since 1910, is expanding into horticulture; the 80ha land project will include an irrigation plan to access water from the Clutha River via the farm’s dam to water the crop.
"The time is right to diversify," said Lindis Peaks Station farmer Lucy Annan. "Horticulture is water-efficient and sits well with our farming system." She said she and fellow station farmer Simon Maling invested in a significant irrigation scheme in 2015 to access water from the Clutha River.
"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," said Maling. "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."
The Lindis River project is 40 percent subscribed as negotiations continue with several large corporate investors from New Zealand and overseas.