Frost Damage Means Fewer Peaches


Front Range peach buyers in Colorado are finding out it's not that easy to find the prized fruit in the worst weather year for peaches in more than two decades. Connections and the willingness to drive peach-laden pickups and vans over the Continental Divide seem to be determining where the peaches are turning up in the Denver metro area.

Supermarket chains and farmers' markets have a reduced supply of the peaches. Front Range peach festivals have managed to get enough. Some churches and service organizations have found a way to keep up at least part of their normal peach sale fundraisers this summer, while others have had to cancel for lack of supply.

Acquiring peaches is requiring a little bit of extra work this year because Palisade growers say they are harvesting, on average, only 20 to 40 percent of their normal crops. Unusual April freezes killed the rest.

The problem with this year's supply in an area that grows 85 percent of Colorado's peaches happened in April. Two hard freezes, a week apart, foiled growers' normal efforts to use wind machines to keep warmer air around the peach trees. An icy wind was blowing hard enough that the machines were not effective. In the aftermath, some growers were optimistic that more of the crop would survive, but as buds began to drop, the damage estimates grew.