Below Freezing Temperatures Wipe Out 1/3 of Palisade Peach Crop

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

Palisade farmers say the below freezing temperatures have destroyed one–third of their peaches, wiped out apricots and damaged cherries and with five weeks to go until the end of the cold season, they're hoping the worst is over.

Palisade orchards say weather has caused $7 million worth of damage to east valley crops so far this season.

Growers say they've been losing sleep and watching their crops 24/7.

Dennis Clark says he's dodged a bullet.

"We came through last night with I think minimal to no damage," Clark of Clark Family Orchards told 11 News on Tuesday.

He says some of his peach blooms were damaged but for the most part come summer, his trees will be full with fruit.

"Survival of the fittest, the buds that are somewhat closed up are insulated."

But most growers were not so lucky.

"We have about 100,000 trees and of that we'll probably lose 30,000 bushels," Bruce Talbott of Talbott Farms said on Tuesday.

He says he's lost a lot of peaches and money and its keeping him up at night.

"You lose sleep in actually running your wind machines or heater systems. You also lost sleep just monitoring waiting to see if the sky is gonna clear," said Talbott,

But even with the big hit to their crops, Palisade orchards say there will be enough peaches for Grand Valley consumers and the Peachfest but less going out to Denver, Salt Lake and other cities.

Leif Johnson with the Palisade Chamber of Commerce says even with losses, he does not believe it's enough to effect agrotourism.

"There are still other types of fruit. We have nectarines, we have plums, we have pears, we have apples so i'm confident that we're gonna have a good season overall," Johnson told 11 News on Tuesday.

But Bruce talbott still won't be sleeping anytime soon and neither will Dennis Clark.

"You're always stressed as a grower," said Clark.

Because even though most of his buds made it, he's worried about the next bullet mother nature has in store.

There is a sweet part to this very sour hand that mother nature has dealt the farmers.

They say even though the cold weather has killed off a lot of blooms, it's less work for them to thin the trees and because the trees have less weight, the peaches will grow bigger.

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