Kerikeri feijoas offer fruitful future

5:00 AM Saturday October 22, 2016 True Commercial

The orchard, at 145A Waimate North Rd, is about 8km from Kerikeri.

A well-established feijoa orchard located on the fertile volcanic soils of Northland’s Kerikeri has now been placed on the market.

Nurturing the Far North orchard since its initial development, owner Paul Crowe credits his success with the fuit as follows: “just doing the basics right, and sustainable orchard practices”.

Bought eight years ago as a blank canvas, the property now boasts 1500 six-year-old trees and is to be sold at auction at the Bayleys Whangarei office on November 25.

The orchard at 145A Waimate North Rd — about 8km from Northland’s largest town centre, Kerikeri — is on a freehold site of four hectares, being marketed for sale by Bayleys salesperson Alan Broadbent and Vinni Bhula.

“There is an excellent opportunity for the new owner to capitalise on value-added products, from chutneys to jams, ice-creams, pulp and juices, dried fruit, and wine; the current market for these products is huge and is largely untapped.” Bhula says.

“The modern 158sq m two-bedroom home on site overlooks a spring-fed pond, landscaped with volcanic rocks.

“A large sheltered outdoor deck area wraps around the house, providing excellent indoor-outdoor flow.”

“The picturesque site opens up possibility of a seasonal shop or cafe, where visitors can sample products made from the feijoas and enjoy the scenery.”

“When I purchased the property in 2009 there was a gap in the feijoa market for large and quality early season fruit,” says Crowe.

“As the typical feijoa season in New Zealand runs from April to June, there can sometimes be a short period where the market can become over supplied with fruit for a week or so I sought to produce early-ripening fruit which would be viable from the very beginning, to end of the season.”

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The dwelling overlooks a spring-fed pond, landscaped with volcanic rocks.

Careful varietal selection has played an important role in the success of the orchard.

Crowe grows three main varieties of feijoas — kaiteri, kakariki, and anatoki — which are known for large size, great eating qualities and being early cropping.

Also present in smaller numbers, is a fourth variety, Apollo, known for producing large, early to mid-season fruit.

“The orchard is meticulously monitored by Mr Crowe, and sustainable horticulture methods have been employed successfully.” Bhula says.

“Bird-boxes dot the property to encourage wildlife, which aids with pollination; pheromone traps monitor pest populations while fish blood and bone and seaweed fertiliser is used for tree and soil health.”

Seasonal soil tests are undertaken through Hill Laboratories, who offer independent analytical testing for the environmental, agricultural and food sectors.

“Depending on the results of these tests, recommended fertiliser is applied at specified rates to support the upcoming season’s crop, says Bhula.

“The minimal use of insecticides has helped to nurture a diverse eco-system on the orchard, and the varied biological life is in part the secret to the orchard’s success” he says.

“These careful crop management techniques have resulted in strengthened yields, and premium price achievements in the past years — with the 2015-2016 season reporting a 23.5 tonne haul of fruit and future projections in excess of 30 tonnes of marketable fruit” says Bhula.

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The modern 158sq m two-bedroom home.

All fruit from the orchard is sold through fresh fruit, vegetable and flower wholesaler “Fresh Direct”, an Auckland-based company which distributes produce nationwide.

“There is a developing export market for feijoas in Australia, the UK, US and Asian markets,” Bhula says.

“The domestic market has also seen strong growth in recent years, and that is thanks in part to the proactive marketing by the Feijoa Growers Association and raising the quality standards at the orchard gate.

“This year feijoa exports hit their highest level in 27 years, surging by 15 per cent to earn $462,523 in the year to May.

“And with growers now paying more attention to the overseas markets, potential for the sector is huge.”