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How to convert a dairy farm into a kiwifruit orchard

Insights
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June 1, 2019

More and more dairy farmers are looking at converting part or all of their dairy farm into a kiwifruit orchard. It’s the perfect way to diversify the farm’s income and increase your revenue per hectare.

Demand for kiwifruit is on the rise globally, especially for the hugely popular Sungold variety. Zespri is expected to release licenses for 700ha of SunGold and 50ha of SunGold organic kiwifruit each year until 2022 – so there is plenty of opportunity to enter the market. Here are some key points to get you started.

1. Partner with a kiwifruit orchard developer

Once you’ve made up your mind to convert the use of your land from dairying to growing kiwifruit, there are several aspects to consider - from planning, design and construction through to planting, establishment and orchard management. Partnering with Southern Cross Horticulture, New Zealand’s leading integrated kiwifruit orchard developer, can help you hit the ground running. We can take care of every aspect of the orchard conversion. Click here to read more about how to establish a kiwifruit orchard.

2. Converting land into a kiwifruit orchard

Your land will likely need a good amount of ground preparation and construction work to be able to cater for kiwifruit plants in the most ideal way. Dairy farmland is usually flat land with open drains, which is not ideal for planting kiwifruit and could be a potential issue. Great care needs to be taken when planning the orchard design to include proper drainage system to avoid flooding. Our team will analyse the exact elevation of your land and plan accordingly.

Water is crucial for plants to grow, and generally the amount of water needed for a kiwifruit orchard is far larger than what is needed for a dairy farm. Water is not only used for irrigation but also for frost protection in winter. More often than not, if there is no spring on the farm, you will need to drill a new bore and install bigger pipes to provide the necessary amount of water. This usually requires resource consent for the increased water intake. Further considerations include planting structures and wind protection including vertical shelters and hail cover where necessary. Southern Cross Horticulture can streamline the conversion process for you and ensure that your orchard is future-proof. View some of our successful orchards here.

3. Kiwifruit orchard management

With the essential requirements in place, it’s time to look at what’s involved in the ongoing management of a kiwifruit orchard. This includes planning when to graft, plant and prune kiwifruit, and catering for other seasonal requirements. Our experienced team will be able to recommend the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for your land, and suggest a planting plan and establishment model to suit your needs. Click here to read more. At Southern Cross Horticulture we grow our own plants to ensure we can work with the most robust and healthy rootstock. Find out how to choose the best Sungold kiwifruit rootstock here.

Ready to get started?

If you’d like to know more, the first step is for us to meet. We’d welcome the opportunity to visit your land, to listen to your vision, and discuss the potential to create a world-class orchard with you. Get in touch with us to today.

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