Long winter hits apricots, could hurt peaches

By: Alex Hambrick Email
By: Alex Hambrick Email

PALISADE, Colo. (KKCO) -- A winter storm warning for parts of Mesa County and chilly nights ahead have fruit farmers worried their crops many not make it through another frost.

Two weeks ago, apricot trees were in full bloom but got hit hard, and farmers said there is no chance for a commercial crop.

"Quite a few buds out there and quite a few blossoms starting up at this point-- anything that is in bloom, any blossoms, will die when it gets into the low 20s," said Farmer Dave Helmer of Alida's Farm.

Peach trees are in full bloom this week, and some farmers fear the cold temperatures in the forecast could lead them to a similar fate as the apricots.

Helmer said losing 80-90 percent of a crop just means Mother Nature has done the pruning for him, but anything more is devastating.

"But losing the remaining 10-20 percent that you count on is devastating because that is your crop that is your money for the year, and [it] sounds like that's what's going to happen here over the next couple of nights," said Helmer.

Local farmers said apricots bloom a week or two earlier than peaches, and with long winters recently, they have not seen a good apricot crop in five years.

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