CENTRAL Queensland irrigated cropping, macadamia and cattle grazing operation, Gemfields Portfolio, has hit the market with the 4386-hectare property anticipated to sell for around $70 million.
Located 10 kilometres from Emerald in the Central Highlands region, the portfolio consists of consists of two non-contiguous landholdings, Gemfields (779ha) and Cypress and Bauhinias (3607ha).
The multi-generation family-owned operation is being sold through Land, Agribusiness, Water and Development (LAWD), and expressions of interest close on August 4.
Gemfields Portfolio is currently run as an irrigated-cropping enterprise, primarily focused on producing high-yielding crops including cotton, sorghum and cereals, as well as portions of dryland cropping as well as a 455ha macadamia orchard.
Cypress and Bauhinias also features a macadamia plant nursery producing approximately 150,000 trees per annum with a capacity of 442,000 trees.
More than 900ha is suitable for further tree-crop development, with the property also highly suited to cattle grazing.
LAWD senior director Danny Thomas said the portfolio has scope to expand the irrigated cotton or horticulture area.
“There is the potential to transform the undeveloped land to permanent horticulture trees – macadamia, pecan, citrus – or table grapes, or cotton production,” Mr Thomas said.
“The future owner could also expand the portfolio’s flood-irrigation area for the purpose of growing cotton.”
The properties’ water infrastructure has undergone extensive development, and features 728ha of laser-levelled flood irrigation and 125ha of centre-pivot irrigation.
The system is fed by the main river system, under the Nogoa Mackenzie Supply Scheme that supplies the region and provides water from Lake Maraboon/Fairbairn Dam.
Soil types vary across the portfolio and include soft black/grey cracking clays with lighter red low ridges, red-brown clay loams to heavy grey-brown clays, black soils, forest red duplex soils and darker scrub soils.
Strong demand for horticulture
Gemfields comes on the market at the same time as smaller scale 667ha irrigated vegetable operation, Elliot River Horticulture Portfolio, located south of Bundaberg in Queensland’s Coastal Burnett region.
Mr Thomas said the sellers of both operations were motivated by institutional investor demand for horticulture ventures.
He said interest is expected to be strong as opportunities rarely arise to acquire landholdings of this scale.
“Over the past 15 years, there has been a rapid institutionalisation of the horticulture sector.
“Like the Gemfields and Elliot River vendors, there have been a number of second and third-generation families who have built extraordinary, high-value cropping assets which are currently in strong demand from institutional-grade buyers and farming families looking to expand operations.”
Mr Thomas said a key feature of both portfolios was their access to substantial and secure water.
“Water security underwrites the production systems of both aggregations and their current operations, and the water associated with these assets is considerably more stable and consistent than horticulture assets found further south.”