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Select Harvests set to shell out $50 million

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Select Harvests plans to grow 4046 hectares of almonds in WA and eventually process its almonds in the region.

The publically listed company is set to invest $50 million in its WA operations.

In Carnamah in 2010, 242,486 two-year-old almond tree saplings from Victoria were planted.

On a second property at Twin Hills, 25km south of the Carnamah orchard, Select Harvests will plant another 930ha of trees this winter.

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Select Harvests WA project manager John Allen said the company chose Carnamah for its climate and water resources.

“We have tested the weather conditions for a number of years and the climate is ideal for almonds,” he said.

Mr Allen said once Select Harvests reached its plantation target in WA, the company could justify a processing facility.

“We are looking for more water to increase our holdings to 10,000 acres (4046ha) and at that stage we will be able to invest in a processing facility,” he said.

“This will allow us to process our almonds in WA instead of taking them back to Victoria.”

Once Select Harvests completes its June plantings, its WA plantations will total 1742ha.

Mr Allen said birds were the biggest concern at the orchard and Select Harvests’ workers used gas guns to tackle this problem.

Moore MLA Grant Woodhams officially opened the orchard at Carnamah last week, saying it would be good for the region.

“Select Harvests’ development at Carnamah is a vote of confidence in the region and brings welcome agricultural investment and an exciting new agribusiness to the Mid West,” he said.

Select Harvests managing director John Bird said the almond orchard would make a significant contribution to the multi-billion-dollar global almond industry.

“The opening at Carnamah is a significant step in our strategy of expanding our orchards and diversifying geographically within Australia, enabling us to take advantage of growing demand in the $US 4.5 billion global almond market,” Mr Bird said.

Select Harvests is the second-largest producer of almonds in the world, managing more than 17,400ha of almond plantations across Australia.

Australia accounts for about 4 per cent of the global almond market.

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