Kiwifruit Strap
It's nothing short of remarkable. The Bay's leading industry was brought to its knees nearly a decade ago as Psa left kiwifruit vines and growers in ruin.

They were the darkest of days and millions of dollars and people's livelihoods were lost.

But this vital sector has bounced back and is today prospering - a turnaround that has flowed on to the real estate market.

As part of a Bust to Boom: Kiwifruit's remarkable comeback, Carmen Hall takes a look at orchard prices - and reveals just how much some are fetching now.

Gold kiwifruit orchards are fetching up to $1.3 million per canopy hectare in a remarkable comeback from Psa - a time when agents say they ''couldn't sell a thing''.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show the median price of a horticulture property, which includes kiwifruit orchards, has more than doubled from $1.1m in 2014 to $2.1 last year.

PGG Wrightson rural and lifestyle sales consultant Stan Robb said that when Psa hit in November 2010 it was like a ''bombshell''.

He lost $19m worth of deals overnight.

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''It was sudden and sales stopped immediately. I had an orchard that wasn't affected, but when it got hit by Psa it was wiped out within a week.''

''Everyone was bewildered because it happened so quickly.''

The most affected growers were those who had bought into Hort 16A and paid the going rate of $350,000 a canopy hectare.

One of Robb's clients bought an orchard in Te Matai Rd, Te Puke, before the outbreak for $1.2m and decided to cut his losses and sold for $400,000.

''That same orchard has been cut over to G3 and is now worth a minimum of $7m.''

But Robb said he knew of only two orchardists forced out by the banks between 2010 and 2013 - and they weren't forced out by mortgagee sales.

PGG Wrightson rural and lifestyle sales consultant Stan Robb says it can't keep up with demand for quality kiwifruit orchards. Photo / File
PGG Wrightson rural and lifestyle sales consultant Stan Robb says it can't keep up with demand for quality kiwifruit orchards. Photo / File

''Psa was a disaster, but the banks were very good. The majority of growers stuck it out whether they had green or gold orchards and they are smelling the roses now to be quite honest.''

The release of G3 was a turning point and since 2014 the price per canopy hectare has increased by more than $100,00 every year, he said.

''It picked up from not being able to sell a thing, but I sold a G3 for $500,00 in 2014.''

Robb sold $120m worth of orchards last year, including one for $1.1m last month, and high-quality orchards were sought after by investors or growers ''who are prepared to pay top dollar''.

The Orchard Gate Return on a top G3 orchard was about $200,000 per canopy hectare, with outgoing costs estimated at $50,000 with a 12 per cent return on investment.

Meanwhile, green orchard prices had also spiked, more than doubling in value from $200,000 per canopy hectare to $500,00 today for a well-situated orchard.

Robb said in his view the future looked positive for kiwifruit.

''Everything is looking sweet''.

Bayleys rural agent Snow Williams said the market was pumping and Hort 16A was going well before Psa.

''But then everything fell over and I never sold another orchard for at least a couple of years.''

Williams said he talked some growers out of selling because it was not a good time.

''Then G3 came to the forefront and Hort 16A got cut out ... we were so lucky G3 was resistant although it took a while for growers to get up and going.''

The highest green kiwifruit orchard he has sold was $590,000 per ha and a gold orchard for $1.2m per ha.

''It's a hell of a lot of money and a huge increase, but orchard gate returns justify those prices.''

■ In July 2011 leaders estimated Psa halved the value of kiwifruit industry.

Western Bay of Plenty
Horticulture Sales

2014 - 83 sales - total sales value - $110,097,691
2015 - 94 sales - total sales value - $158,142,965
2016 - 116 sales - total sales value - $209,471,005
2017 - 89 - total sales value - 206,351,599
2018 - 71 - total sales value - 208,629,950

Tomorrow we look at how the Psa disaster unfolded and how a team of scientists helped save the industry.