Australian almond processor Select Harvests, the world’s second-largest almond manager, has announced a A$19.5m (US$20.5m) of Belvedere Orchards – 1500 acres of established almond orchards in New South Wales’ Riverina.

The latest acquisition by Select Harvest, plus plans to plant new orchards in Western Australia, are expected to bring the company’s total acreage to 13,100 – almost three times the 3400 acres it had in late 2009.

In addition to its own orchards, Select Harvest manages 34,000 acres on a fee-for-service basis, including growing, harvesting, processing and marketing. The company is also a leader in the manufacture and processing of a variety of fruits and nuts for the Australian market.

Along with the Belvedere orchards, Select Harvest will acquire 7900 megalitres of permanent water rights, infrastructure and proceeds from the 2011 crop, with completion of the sale expected in June 2011.

“The acquisition of these orchards represents excellent value for Select Harvest’s shareholders and demonstrates continued momentum in the expansion of our company orchards, diversifying our business and enabling us to benefit from the full almond value chain,” said CEO John Bird.

“We will continue to pursue opportunities to increase company orchards by acquisition or long-lease, where the orchards can be acquired at below replacement value, and to leverage the presence of company orchards to grow our managment services business.”

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