MONTROSE, Colo. (KKCO) - Freezing temperatures ruined the cherry crops in Montrose County. Now Governor Ritter wants to help.
"The biggest problem we've had is the cold temperatures are coming at the wrong time," says John Murray, owner of Triple M Orchards.
Harsh winter temperatures continuing through the last week of April killed off Montrose County's sweet cherry crop.
"We're not happy we don't have a crop," says Murray.
Murray is one of the largest cherry growers in Montrose County.
He has hundreds of trees that can typically produce 20,000 pounds of cherries. But with extreme weather, Murray was only able to salvage 40 pounds of cherries. With the retail price of cherries at $3 or $4, he's lost out on thousands of dollars.
"It's a big hit," says Murray.
Now the Governor's Office wants to help. "The Governor submitted the request for disaster resignation to the secretary of agriculture as a means to prepare the way for access to low interest loans," says Jim Miller, deputy commissioner for Colorado Department of Agriculture.
What that means is if local lenders won't take a chance on cherry farmers, the USDA will and give them the loan they need.
"The affected farmers have to be able to demonstrate that they lost a significant portion of their crop," says Miller.
That shouldn't be too difficult, given many cherry farmers lost 100 percent of their crop.
Murray says he doesn't intend to use the USDA's emergency loan program, but he's happy to know it's there if he needs it.
"You know the way the banks are they may not want to go with us another year. So if there's a loan program available, it might be a good thing to have," says Murray.
The disaster relief loan has also been extended to Delta County.