Ardgour Valley Orchards spans 38 hectares within Ardgour Station, Tarras – a sheep and beef property owned and operated by the Jolly family since 1955.
Two thirds of the orchard has been set aside to produce new apricot varieties NZ Summer 2, 3 and 4, especially bred for New Zealand conditions by Plant and Food Research’s Clyde site, Central Otago.
Ross and Sharon Kirk have selected these varieties for commercialisation due to their colour, flavour and appearance attributes. These apricots are destined primarily for the Asian market where consumers favour apricots with increased sweetness, low acidity and bright colour. Summerfruit NZ and Plant and Food Research’s breeding programme, funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has produced the cultivars focussing on these key attributes. A low concentration of ethylene ensures firmness is maintained during storage, facilitating transport of high quality fruit to premium overseas markets.
As well as apricots, this orchard will produce a mix of red-fleshed and white-fleshed cherries.
Approximately 9,000 apricot trees and 1,200 cherry trees were planted in winter 2020, with additional plantings of 6,000 apricot trees and 7,000 cherry trees in 2021 and another 7,000 cherry trees scheduled for 2022.
Hortinvest was commissioned in 2016 to conduct a feasibility study into developing a portion of land for horticultural use, following the Jolly family’s desire to diversify into horticulture. Hortinvest will manage all orchard, harvest and export operations for Ardgour Valley Orchards.