PALISADE, Colo. (CBS4)– For two years, Palisade Peach farmers have struggled with harsh freezes destroying large swaths of their peach orchards.
“Last year we had 65% of our crop and the year before we had 15% which was a total disaster. We always want 100% but at 80-90% we are sustainable,” Farm Manager Bruce Talbott of Talbott’s Mountain Gold said.
This year, he expects somewhere 80-90%, and it’s a weight off his shoulders. Still, late freezes in May have happened before, although very rarely. The latest he’s seen it was May 12.
“Last night we got down to 33-34 degrees, but we were overcast and we sat there for 4 hours and 33-34 doesn’t hurt us, it’s when you start dropping below that that we start to lose fruit.”
So things are looking sunny for a bountiful peach harvest later this summer, which is good for anyone who loves the especially delicious design of Palisade Peaches. Talbott said the reason the Palisade Peach is so sought after is simple.
“First our elevation is about 4,700 feet,” Talbott explained. “At that elevation, we have very high light intensity, the high light density contributes to the development of flavors.”
“We have a shorter growing season than most other peach growing districts, so it takes us longer to grow an orchard, but we have a more open tree, so we have better light penetration through the trees and better color,” Talbott went on. “I think that is part of our flavor.”
Finally, he said the temperature plays a large role in how the peaches taste.
“As a high desert, we have high diurnal temperature shifts, meaning we have very hot days, cold nights.”
“When you do that, you build flavor in the day and retain it at night. If you have hot nights, you tend to burn them out. We’re looking at you, Georgia.”
Talbott expects peaches to be in farmers’ markets and supermarkets come late July.