Peach growers’ mighty efforts finally bear fruit

Bruce Herman, co-owner of Herman Produce, shows off some of the bounty from his orchard in Palisade.

A long stretch of chilly weather early in the growing season scared Grand Valley peach orchard owners this spring, but the fruit weathered the cold, and while it is being harvested later than normal, it will arrive in abundance.

Many orchard owners say they expect a full crop of the summer staple, and early varieties are available now at some fruit stands in the area.

Renee Herman, co-owner of Herman Produce, said the peaches she has available right now are smaller than normal but are fully developed.

Because nighttime temperatures were frigid throughout the spring, the early varieties of peaches didn’t grow quite as big. In this type of situation, “The fruit didn’t know what it’s supposed to do,” Herman said.

As the season progresses, the peaches will get bigger, and the crops will grow more plentiful, Herman said.

Carol Zadrozny of Z’s Orchard said her workers began picking the Flaming Fury peaches a few at a time earlier this week, and Z’s will have enough for the market within the coming week.

She said her orchard has enough of the fruit to fill orders by the pound, but customers hoping to buy peaches by the box will have to wait a little longer.

The schedule for picking the peaches looks a little fuzzy, with orchards reporting delays of anywhere from 10 to 15 days compared to normal years.

Charlie Talbott of Talbott Farms said this year’s peach crop is reminiscent of 2008, when the orchard had commercial quality peaches until early October. He said he expects this year’s peaches to be available until Oct. 1.

Despite the later picking season, Herman said her customers are expressing surprise that she has peaches stocked in July.

“People have it in their heads that peach season doesn’t start until August,” she said.

Customers may have been thrown off due to early reports of possible freeze damage. The peaches avoided heavy devastation, however, and the results this summer have been a relief for orchard owners.

“We are so blessed to have a crop. With a few degrees drop, we could have lost everything,” Zadrozny said.

Peaches will be more plentiful than in previous years and much better than last year, according to Talbott.

“We’re looking at a 90 percent crop potential,” Talbott said. “Last year, we had slightly less than two-thirds of the crop.”


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