Almonds have grown wild in Central Otago for many years. But only now, Plant & Food Research is embarking on a feasibility study to see if almonds can be grown sustainably in Hawke’s Bay. The $100,000 project has backing from central and local government, alongside Picot Productions Ltd. Hawke’s Bay was selected for its climate but that does not mean the door has been closed on Central Otago.
According to Plant & Food Research business manager Declan Graham, almonds tended to grow best in harsh conditions. They are everywhere around Central Otago in places such as Bannockburn, Gibbston Valley and Clyde.
AgFirst will undertake a financial analysis as part of the project in Hawke’s Bay. It will consider the economics of setting up a profitable almond orchard system — factoring in market prices, climatic volatility, and environmental sustainability challenges.