Portfolio of three Waikato blueberry orchards
The property at 460 O’Regan Rd, Rukuhia, includes a four-bedroom residence. Photo / Supplied
Land, buildings and orchards encompassing three blueberry growing and processing properties in the Central Waikato areas of Rukuhia and Cambridge will go under the hammer next week.
All three sites are being marketed for sale at consecutive auctions taking place at 11am on Thursday May 23 through Bayleys Hamilton.
Salespersons Scott Macdonald and Aaron Paterson say the ‘domino-style’ auction will allow the properties to be purchased as one substantial productive operation – or individually by established growers in the region looking to expand their blueberry businesses.
“Each property brings something different to the combined portfolio. One is the ‘engine room’ of the business with crop and substantial fruit processing plant and infrastructure; one is the ‘home’ block with the owner’s homestead and blueberry plantings; and one is purely crop plantings under netting,” Macdonald says.
“As a combined entity, these three units still have a lot of development prospects through new blueberry varieties and production increases.”
At the nucleus of the operation being marketed for sale is a 3.97ha property which has 1.2ha planted in crop, adjacent to supporting infrastructure consisting of:
• a 207sq m commercial-grade packhouse;
• a 53sq m insulated cool store;
• about 54sq m of staffroom amenities accessed via double garage doors; and
• an enclosed 77sq m concrete floored three-bay storage shed, and interconnecting 43sq m high-stud open fourth bay.
Harvest records show the property at 390 O’Regan Rd in Rukuhia produced 4894kg from a range of blueberries varieties, in the recently completed 2019 season running from December to March.
“Several unproductive areas within the property are earmarked for future planting - with the land being developed to sustain an increase in productivity. Forecasts are that land improvement and plantings on the under-utilised portion of the property could vastly increase output,” Macdonald says.
“The crop tonnage could be further increased should the new plantings include centra blue, sky blue and veluto, which produce a heavier-yielding crop than traditional clones.”
The Rukuhia orchard is irrigated from bore-supplied water stored in four 30,000 litre tanks. A frost prevention system uses overhead sprinklers which runs across the crop that is planted in a near-rectangular land block with a protective shelterbelt hedgerow running down two sides.
Plant and machinery associated with the 390 O’Regan Rd property being marketed for sale includes a harvester, processing conveyor belt, weighing scales, picking trays and containers.
Just a few hundred metres away is a sister 4.12ha property that produced 9067kg of fruit this season from plantings of sky blue, centra blue, eureka and first blush blueberry varieties.
The property at 460 O’Regan Rd in Rukuhia includes a modern 278sq m four-bedroom/three-bathroom single level residence built in 2005. The homestead also has a heated swimming pool and spa pool adjacent to an expansive outdoor entertaining space.
Orchard management infrastructure on the property consists of a 112sq m concrete floor storage shed and a neighbouring 54sq m open-plan workshop accessible through double garage doors.
Plant and equipment included are a delivery truck, tractor, commercial-grade ride-on mower, and a full inventory of vegetation maintenance machinery.
Rounding out the portfolio of orchards is 4.54ha plantation at 3200 Cambridge Rd, Cambridge, which harvested more than 25,000kg of rahi, maru, harrisons, powder blue, sky blue, eureka, and first blush blueberries last season. The entire crop is planted under a netting canopy which stretches across virtually all the available land.
The 69-row orchard is irrigated by water supplied from a neighbouring property and stored on-site in four large tanks. Crop maintenance equipment is stowed in a small storage shed and in a 20-foot container. A gravelled race runs through the spine of the plantings to enable both easy plant maintenance throughout the year and efficient harvesting in the picking season.
Paterson says blueberry plantings across the three properties vary in age – raising the prospect that some of the older varieties could be uprooted and replaced with younger stock.
“By cropping multiple varieties of blueberries, the orchard business ensures a ‘conveyor belt’ of ripening periods throughout the growing season - rather than having all stock maturing for harvest at the same time,” Paterson says.
He says about 80 per cent of New Zealand’s blueberry crop is grown in the Waikato region which has nutrient-rich peat-based soils.