Evergreen hort at Emerald

Horticulture with water, size and scope

Property News
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Large scale horticultural property Evergreen has the magical mix of water, land, infrastructure and location.

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After 22 years of developing the 3793-hectare Evergreen Farms into an irrigated horticultural property of uncommon scale, the King family is seeking expressions of interest for its sale.

Near Emerald in Queensland's Central Highlands, Evergreen is at a crossroads, ripe for expansion.

It has water, infrastructure, established markets and, remarkably for such a mature business, plenty of new ground.

The business sells an average of 1400 tonnes of table grapes from 206ha of established table grapes that are five years old or younger.

It produces another 20,000 to 30,000 kilograms of lychees from a 25ha orchard.

Vendor Darwin King said the oldest vines were in the final stages of replacement, with 100,000 ordered for planting across 194 already trellised hectares in August 2022.

Another 353ha suitable for immediate development already has drip irrigation infrastructure installed.

The mostly red sandy soils were ideal, Mr King said, for a wide variety of horticultural and permanent tree crops when coupled with Evergreen's water resources.

The extensive irrigation infrastructure is supported with 6343 megalitre water allocations. Of that, 382ML are high priority and the balance medium.

The farm also boasts multiple water storages totalling 800ML capacity and has direct access to the Nogoa River.

"We have about 6343ML of water, which is much more than we actually use in a year," Mr King said.

"Thankfully, because of our over-investment in water licences, we have been able to survive the drought, even though we've had 0 per cent medium-priority allocations.

"We can carry over water we haven't used and that's been a great insurance."

Complementing the irrigated area is what Mr King described as Brigalow-style grazing land, which is currently conservatively stocked with 600 head of agisted cattle.

The property's high-quality operational infrastructure includes a 10,000-square-metre packing shed, 5000m2 cold storage, 16 residential dwellings, a 225-person accommodation village, administration building, storage sheds and field workshops.

Mr King said Evergreen supplied its table grapes to Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, wholesale fresh produce markets and export customers.

It was also, he said, in the process of achieving accreditation to access New Zealand markets.

Evergreen has third-party accredited quality assurance systems in place for the Harmonised Australian Retailer Produce Scheme and Freshcare to meet the requirements of major customers

With its scale, water, infrastructure and opportunity to swiftly extend existing plantings or change land use, would likely appeal to institutional or corporate investors, LAWD agent Simon Cudmore said.

The Emerald property's 3793ha is made up of seven contiguous titles and can be sold as a single asset or in individual parcels.

Mr Cudmore said he expected offers for the entirety would exceed $60 million.

"What stands out is the amazing combination of cropping that's available on the farm, and also the infrastructure," Mr Cudmore said.

There's a 10,000 square-metre shed and 5000m2 of cool room capacity, which is a major building in any metropolitan area, let alone at Emerald, so it certainly offers scale."

He said the property suited citrus, avocado, berry and vegetable growers or food packaging businesses looking to vertically integrate.

Vendor Darwin King said it was a bittersweet but necessary transition as he focused on a large new township project near Brisbane.

Running Evergreen was his first job after university and the staff members had become like family.

"We have a very capable management team on the farm who can make this a turnkey proposition for any buyer," he said, "many of whom have been with us since 2008 and we would love the opportunity for them to continue at Evergreen."

Evergreen is 242 kilometres from Rockhampton.

Expressions of interest close October 14. Contact LAWD agents Danny Thomas, 0439 349 977, or Simon Cudmore, 0433 160 413.

The story Evergreen hort at Emerald first appeared on Farm Online.

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