Yellow Tree

How to establish a kiwifruit orchard

May 20, 2019

With the global demand for Sungold kiwifruit expected to double by 2025, the kiwifruit industry in New Zealand is a great place to be. New Zealand needs more orchards capable of delivering sustainable speed-to-production, and there is real potential to generate an excellent return on investment and make a solid profit once the crops are ready to be harvested.  

If you’re interested in establishing your own kiwifruit orchard and becoming part of the kiwifruit success story, read on. We’ve compiled a list of the key points to consider, to help you ensure your orchard project will be a success.

1. Partner with a kiwifruit orchard developer

When you establish a new kiwifruit orchard and enter the market, you’ll want to make sure that you are starting out in the most cost-effective and efficient way. And that’s where we can help. Partnering with an experienced kiwifruit orchard developer will ensure that you avoid common pitfalls and make the best choices for long-term success. Southern Cross Horticulture is one of New Zealand’s leading, fully integrated kiwifruit orchard developers. We offer a unique turn-key solution – from land selection and planning all the way through to establishment and complete orchard management, with as little or as much involvement as you would like.

We can work with you from start to finish, or focus on a single part of the orchard establishment process. Having all the capability in-house at Southern Cross, including construction teams and nursery operations, means that you don't need to bring in third-party contractors to build your orchard. You'll benefit from cost-efficiencies, time savings, and control over quality. This approach of creating a Sungold orchard allows you to create an asset that will produce crops much faster than the industry average while being fully sustainable and designed for long-term success. This is the business model we believe in at Southern Cross Horticulture.

2. Land selection

Finding the right piece of land for developing a kiwifruit orchard is a crucial step towards maximising productivity - and your return on investment. There are many factors to consider, including the local climate, irrigation options, the size and shape of the property, soil composition and water / moisture levels. At Southern Cross Horticulture, we bring together experts from across the industry to help you select the best land based on all these considerations.

If you already own a piece of land, or are keen to convert a dairy farm into a kiwifruit orchard, Southern Cross Horticulture is ideally placed to turn your property into a profitable asset that will grow its first crop in record time. We have made it our business to try and test methods for getting the most out of even challenging properties and generating excellent crops even in difficult growing conditions.

3. Planning and design

While it’s tempting to get right into it and start the building work, it’s a good idea to take your time when planning and designing your kiwifruit orchard. The creation of a new orchard that will maximise its fruit-bearing potential requires careful consideration and planning to get it right first time. So, what aspects should you consider in your plan?

The bad news is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to orchard design. The best layout, required infrastructure and planting plan will depend on several factors including the size of your property, soil composition, expected time to crop, and other issues. The good news is that you can tap into our in-depth knowledge and experience. Southern Cross Horticulture has been building orchards for decades. We’ve been at the leading edge of a number of industry innovations including using greenhouses, placing canopies across entire orchards and developing specialist establishment techniques.

In partnership with you, we can help you create the ideal design for your orchard. We can take responsibility for all aspects of the orchard development – from getting planning and resource consents through to project management and sequencing tasks in order to deliver optimal outcomes.

4. Construction

Once you have agreed a plan and design for your kiwifruit orchard, the construction phase can begin. Our in-house construction teams allow us to control the entire value chain including planning, building and managing your orchard. You will not need to bring in any third party contractors, which allows you to streamline the building process and benefit from cost-efficiencies and time savings.

With a focus on quality and longevity, our experts will turn your plans into reality. The Southern Cross Horticulture construction specialists are highly experienced in the different types of construction methods, in canopy design and management, and in creating efficient vine structures – creating the physical foundations for your Sungold kiwifruit plants to flourish in. We use state-of-the-art equipment and only work with quality materials that we know will stand the test of time. When we’re at work, you can rest assured that things are done right and no corners will be cut.

5. Nursery

The quality and consistency of the actual kiwifruit plants can make or break a new kiwifruit orchard. Quality, consistency and on-time delivery are critical to orchard development and kiwifruit plants need to live up to these standards. This is the only way of ensuring a fast time to crop, while maximising the ultimate yield and capacity of the orchard for the future. Investing in high quality plants from a reliable nursery will pay off.

At Southern Cross Horticulture, we grow our own juvenile plants in a large network of highly controlled greenhouses. Our horticultural specialists have fine-tuned our unique nursery process to ensure that Southern Cross plants are consistently of the highest quality, and always delivered on time. Our plants crop bigger and faster than is usual for the industry, providing a solid base to build a business on. With our plants, you can rest assured that your Sungold orchard will produce excellent results.

6. Establishment

Even the most robust and strong plants won’t be able to thrive unless the right growing conditions are put in place. It’s vital that you create the perfect root environment so that your plants can flourish and quickly produce a fruiting canopy. As part of this, you will need to consider soil composition, nutrients, irrigation and pruning.

Providing quality plants in the rootstock of your choice, Southern Cross Horticulture offers you the fastest way to cropping by a significant margin. It all starts with healthy, strong and large plants that will be able to grow quickly once in the ground. The time of year plays a role and it’s crucial to plan ahead and schedule construction and establishment processes according to seasonal requirements.

Some of our previous projects show how a 21, 27 or 33 month establishment model can be utilised for best results. Have a look at our orchard development case studies. For example, we set up GEMM Orchard to get up and running quickly, with its first crop to be harvested after 21 months. With every project, we set out to do it right, and do it right from the beginning. That’s how we ensure that our orchards deliver yields that beat the industry standard.

7. Management

Whether you’d like to be closely involved in the development of your orchard, or would like us to take care of the entire process – we are ready to support you in creating a world-class kiwifruit orchard. We are growers ourselves, and we’ve learnt what works and what doesn’t the hard way, from decades of first-hand experience. We’re now making the management strategies we’ve used for our own successful orchards available to you – along with our trade secrets that we’ve built up over years.  

As a leading, fully integrated kiwifruit orchard developer in New Zealand, Southern Cross Horticulture is your go-to one-stop-shop for anything orchard related. Our management team pulls together extensive experience from across the sector. We can tailor our services to suit your needs. We’re passionate about the industry, and we work hard to ensure your orchard lives up to its potential. We focus on bringing in an excellent first crop and schedule orchard development and management activities with a view on long-term results.

8. Orchards that grow your wealth faster

Building a successful kiwifruit orchard takes time, but some orchards start to produce crops much faster than others. A lot will depend on the quality and consistency of your plants, as well as on the time of planting and the establishment process you put into place. Southern Cross Horticulture orchards usually produce first-crop yields that are significantly higher than the industry average – from as soon as 21 months in the ground.  

We believe the winning formula for establishing your own successful Sungold orchard is not just about faster and bigger crops though, it is also about sustainability. We are in it for the long haul and we will not compromise on any aspect of the orchard development process, so that you will get a high-performing asset for years to come. Our approach to growing kiwifruit equates to a faster positive cashflow and reliable long-term productivity for you. Read more about how our Golden kiwifruit orchards deliver a high return on investment 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.

*Southern Cross Horticulture makes no warranty or representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information, photographs or other published material in this publication. Southern Cross Horticulture shall not be liable to any person for loss, injury or damages arising from a person’s reliance on the published material.