Nipped in the bud
After freezing temperatures recently in Colorado, Palisade peach grower Bruce Talbott said he anticipates 20 percent of the crop remains.
“We’re pretty beat up,” he said. “1999 was the last time we were hit this hard.”
Talbot said peaches, cherries, pears and apricots are all severely damaged while apples seem to have escaped major damage. Grapes sustained damage in late October and also again in this event. He said there is damage, but the crop appears to be at around 80 percent remaining.
Talbott utilizes H-2A labor but said the contract will have to be cancelled if there is little to harvest. There is a clause for acts of God in the contract that can be petitioned, but it is a crew he has been utilizing for several years that will have to find work elsewhere.
“We’re looking at what we think is out there, we’ll know more in another two or three weeks,” he said. “Ultimately, you’ll know at harvest because the truth is what comes off the trees. It changes from estimates to real.”
Talbott also produces sweet and hard ciders. The sweet cider could be increased this year due to increased interest. The hard cider has been slowly growing as a new label. With half of the hard cider going to food service in kegs, that portion of the business is on hold as consumers await the reopening of restaurants, bars and pubs.
According to the Grand Junction Sentinel, Meteorologist Kris Sanders with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction said the low fell to a record 19 degrees Monday night (April 13) in Grand Junction, 2 degrees below the previous record set in 1933. Peaches contribute about $40 million to the state’s economy annually.
Growers use irrigation water, contained fires and fans to minimize freeze damage though the loss this year remains severe.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said he hopes this does not have a significant impact on growers. He said he is among the Coloradans looking forward to Palisade peaches this summer. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 768-0024.