Despite killer frost this spring, stands full of fruit, growers say

Andrea Lopez, 14, moves some ripe Bing cherries to display at the Herman Produce Stand in Palisade Sunday.

There is no truth to the perception that below-freezing temperatures this spring wiped out Mesa County’s entire fruit harvest, said two local fruit growers.

Customers have been walking up to her fruit stands since June 11 surprised to see local apricots and cherries for sale, said Renee Herman, whose family owns several fruit stands in Palisade and Whitewater.

“I have cherries, apricots, all kinds of stuff,” she said. “People are shocked.”

Herman and Louise Hetherington, owner of Hetherington Orchards on 32 Road, are worried that people think all the Grand Valley fruit died when temperatures dipped below 20 degrees for several straight nights in March.

The reality, the women said, is that some fruit did die this spring, but there is still enough fruit to sell locally at fruit stands and farmers’ markets.

“I don’t think there will be any great shortage of fruit in Mesa County at all,” Hetherington said.

Large-scale growers who typically ship produce across Colorado or out of state may not have enough apricots and cherries to do so this year, Herman said. However, enough fruit survived the spring freeze to sell locally, she added.

In fact, Herman harvested 400 pounds of cherries from the 10 trees she owns. Typically, she harvests 1,000 pounds from 10 trees, so the spring freeze did affect her crop.

“But 400 pounds feeds a lot of people,” Herman said.

The magnitude of fruit losses for orchards in Palisade and East Orchard Mesa depends on whom you talk to, the women said. Some orchard owners lost some or all of their cherries and apricots to the late spring freeze. Some farmers lost little to nothing.

Hetherington said she expects her 10-acre orchard to have a healthy peach harvest to match her healthy cherry harvest. She also has healthy plums, apricots and nectarines.

Hetherington, who has owned her orchard for 63 years, said the local plum and apricot trees were hit hardest by the spring freeze.

“Apricots did get hit hard, but we still have them,” Herman said, echoing Hetherington’s words.

“Go to farmers markets and fruit stands. Fruit is plentiful in Mesa County.”


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