Fruits

Warakirri’s new $30m stone fruit orchards leased to Montague make it one of Australia’s biggest growers | Queensland Country Life

One of Australia’s largest agriculture investment managers and operators has bought 250 hectares of stone fruit orchards that it will lease to fruit grower, WF Montague.

Warakirri Asset Management’s Farmland Fund acquired two orchards in the Goulburn Valley and Cobram from undisclosed vendors.

“We have aggregated a number of assets and a development program that will see over $30 million deployed for the fund in total,” a Warakirri spokesperson said.

The orchards were planted to specific, high-performing plum, nectarine and apricot varieties in a combination of trellis and free standing configurations, including a small area under net.

“On full development, the two orchards together will have a footprint of more than 250ha, making the fund one of the largest owners of premium stone fruit orchards in Australia,” he said.

Already Australia’s leading packer and marketer of stone fruit, under the 20-year lease partnership, Montague is expanding its stone fruit production footprint to be one of the largest growers of premium plums, nectarines, apricots and peaches.

The strategy is focused on high-performing plum and nectarine varieties marketed under the Montague Treeand CROC EGGS trademarks in Australia and overseas.

The partnership will allow Montague to leverage its genetics, modern horticultural techniques and orchard management, Warakirri fund portfolio manager Steve Jarrott said, to produce larger volumes of consistent, high-quality fruit from highly efficient and sustainable production systems.

“We’re delighted to commence the fund with these high-quality foundation investments and, in particular, the class and caliber of our initial tenant partner,” he said.

“Montague have been growing fruit for three generations and are a business with an intense focus on quality, consistency and innovation in the horticulture industry – a great fit for the Warakirri Farmland Fund.”

Montague managing director Scott Montague said the investment would “allow all parties to accelerate their growth strategy and diversification of fruit grown”.

READ MORE: Montague moves into citrus

Mr Montague said his business would wind down a successful 2022 stone fruit harvest over the coming weeks after a challenging season impacted by the global pandemic.

Attention would then turn to the new crop and further expansion of the orchards.

The Warakirri Farmland Fund was launched in 2021 and developed specifically for domestic and offshore institutional investors, after securing significant seed funding from one of Europe’s largest pension funds.

The fund will buy, develop and own a diversified portfolio of investment grade agricultural property and lease the assets to high quality agricultural businesses, as tenant partners.

Target assets include nuts and fruit, wine and table grapes, water entitlements and selected row crop farmland assets.

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The story Warakirri buys big into orchards for Montague first appeared on Farm Online.

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