The first stage of planting at a major new cherry orchard development in Central Otago has been completed, after four cornerstone investors committed to underwrite it.
New Zealand horticultural investment company, Hortinvest, has planted the first 12 hectares at its $15.5 million Lindis River cherry project.
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Stage two will be undertaken in winter 2020 when a further 23,000 trees will be planted.
Marketing and sales manager, Sharon Kirk said the project spans 80 hectares and the first fruit is expected to be harvested in the summer of 2021-2022.
The Lindis River project is 40 percent subscribed as negotiations continue with several large corporate investors from New Zealand and overseas.
"It's an exciting milestone to plant the first 7,500 trees at Lindis River. We're pleased these investors had the foresight to get the project underway while we continue to finalise other applications," said Kirk.
She said winter planting was critical for optimal cherry production outcomes.
"It's best to plant when trees are dormant and the effects of transplanting are minimal," she said.
Lindis Peaks Station sheep and beef farmers Lucy Annan and Simon Maling are among investors, identifying horticulture as a means to diversify the business and create opportunities for the future.
"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."
Water is piped from the Clutha River via the farm's dam to water the crop.
Lindis River remains open to new investors
Kirk said while investors have until September 27 to finalise their applications, there was still time for new investors to come aboard.
Hortinvest's second Central Otago project at Mt Pisa is also making progress with land preparation underway and stage one planting set to begin next week.