The retail price of limes is a ready-made incentive to plant an orchard and join the horticulture industry.
As with any seasonal product, supply and demand dictate price, and limes are often at the top end of the fruit scale, especially among citrus fruit.
Harvest in this region is traditionally late autumn through to early winter. The price point for limes can vary considerably, with the highest recorded supermarket price in 2020 being $75.99/kg, while the wholesale price has been as high as $44/kg. Recently a Whanganui supermarket had been retailing limes at over $30/kg at times.
Last year an Auckland supermarket was selling imported limes from the US for $50/kg.
"Lime harvest in New Zealand is in March, so to make sure our customers have the option of fresh limes, we import them when we need to," Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said.
The lime season in New Zealand runs from March until July and yield depends largely on rainfall. The current price in Whanganui supermarkets is in the $6.50/kg range.
In general terms, 14 limes will weigh around 1kg. Limes are affected by annual rainfall. High-rainfall years will traditionally result in lower yields. This year has brought consistent rainfall throughout the North Island's west coast.
One of the most unlikely places to grow limes, many would think, is a valley renowned for steep hill-country farms. Most of New Zealand's commercial crops are grown on the East Cape, or certainly on the warm climes of the East Coast area of the North Island.
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However, nestled in a beautiful and sheltered environment a 20-minute drive up the Waitotara Valley is a 4-year-old lime orchard where the crop is showing strong numbers per tree. The orchard has been listed for sale with Bayleys, Whanganui rural and lifestyle agent Knud Bukholt.
"Rarely do we see properties with this type of potential coming to the open market, in what is considered a very achievable price range for a growing business," Bukholt said.
The block contains about 430 lime trees that are now heavily laden but are yet to reach their prime productivity, with room for more trees to be planted. Prime productivity is usually reached at between eight and 10 years.
The current owners have indicated the growth rate and increase in fruit volume over the last couple of years has been exponential due to the rich alluvial soils and temperate climate this river valley has to offer. There is a large dam at one end, should water ever be required.
Complimenting the orchard is a tidy one-bedroom cottage, plus support facilities and good internet connectivity. Currently subject to survey, this block will be 2.46ha (more or less). An additional 10-hectare bare block is also potentially available, ensuring future expansion is possible.
This unique Waitotara Valley property offers multiple opportunities for a wide array of buyers, from the keen, green lifestyler through to the absent investor.
Offers for 2196 Waitotara Valley Rd close at 2pm on June 17.