Deep Creek Fruits NZ LP - established to develop two significant cherry developments in the Upper Clutha region of Central Otago - has successfully raised the capital required to begin its second phase of planting.
The completion of the first tranche is the result of extensive interest from a range of New Zealand wholesale investors keen to take advantage of the exponential global demand for quality New Zealand cherries. Investors include the sheep and beef land owners of Lindis Peaks Station and Mt Pisa Station who approached Deep Creek Fruits' management company Hortinvest Limited with plans to diversify a portion of their land into horticultural use.
Director and global sales marketing professional, Sharon Kirk said the successful first tranche was the realisation of orchardist husband Ross Kirk's vision. Together, the Kirks set up Hortinvest in 2016 to help investors tap into the lucrative cherry industry. "Having the vision is one thing, realising it is another and we're extremely excited about the future for New Zealand cherries and the investors who stand to gain," she said.
Stage 2 planting will see 25 hectares at Lindis Peaks and 72 hectares at Mt Pisa, in addition to 11 hectares planted at both locations last winter - a total of 119 hectares. A board of directors including chair, Michael Ambrose has been appointed to report to investors on the progress of the development. Mr Ambrose is an experienced director, business consultant and chartered accountant.
Mrs Kirk, a horticulturalist with vast global sales and marketing expertise, said the developments had created jobs for two full-time employees during the planting phase and more were to follow in coming months. Positions would include orchard and administrative roles, she said.
"We expect to open the next capital raise in the near future. This will include an additional 45 hectares at Lindis Peaks. The final planting stage of planting will be competed in winter 2021," she said.
Innovation underpins commitment to quality
A key development implemented for stage 2 planting is the introduction of a machine which enables up to 6,000 trees a day to be planted - an increase on the previous record of 3,200 planted last year.
It was designed by project and orchard development manager, Ross Kirk and purpose-built to his specifications by Brett Sheriff Engineering of Cromwell. "With this significant piece of infrastructure onboard and our team trained in its use, we expect to increase its capability to 1,000 trees per hour, with the right soil conditions," Mr Kirk said.
When the orchards are fully mature in 2025, up to 500 pickers per 80 hectares would be required, he said. A leading edge packhouse would be constructed in time for the first harvest and the first fruit will be exported to global markets in 2021-2022. Ross and Sharon Kirk have more than 30 years' experience in growing and marketing premium New Zealand fruit globally, and Hortinvest has existing and developing markets for its cherries throughout Asia, Europe and the United States.
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