Apricots safe, but growers still worry about cold weather

David Morton of Palisade was ready for some well-earned sleep Saturday night after working the previous two nights to keep his farm’s precious apricot blooms from freezing.

Low temperatures were expected to be around 35 degrees Saturday night, and that was a relief for weary farmers fighting off lows that dipped to below freezing on Thursday and Friday nights.

Last year, Morton’s Orchard lost all of its apricots to a late spring frost. Thankfully, this year isn’t looking to be a repeat.

“I’m sure hoping this is the end of it,” Morton said of freezing weather. “I’d be tickled to death if I could get a full night’s sleep.”

Last year’s late spring freeze occurred at the end of March, when temperatures dipped to the mid-20s for two nights in a row.

After a relatively warm winter last year, apricots bloomed earlier in the season, and growers ran a greater risk of losing the fruit to freezing temperatures. Morton, for example, said his apricots bloomed March 7 last year, but they bloomed during the first days of April this year.

Blooms for cherries, peaches, nectarines and peaches also reportedly were not damaged, but that may be in part because those trees bloom later than apricots.

Orchardists aren’t out of the woods yet. The forecast as of Saturday evening called for lows between 25 degrees and 35 degrees tonight, then warming Monday night with lows expected between 35 degrees to 45 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

Wednesday and Thursday night are expected to be warmer, with lows in the 40s, the agency reported.


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