Late-blooming fruit trees please growers

Buds delayed, lowering risk of killing frost

A bee lands on an apricot blossom on East Orchard Mesa. Blooms on most fruit trees have been delayed by unusually cool temperatures this spring,

The fruit growers in Palisade seem to be the only ones not complaining about this year’s chilly spring temperatures in the Grand Valley.

“The blooms are coming out later than average this year, when generally they bloom too early, putting them in danger of freezing,” said Harry Talbott, co-owner of Talbott Farms Inc.

Talbott guessed that April’s cooler temperatures would produce a bumper crop of apricots and cherries, two fruits hard-hit by last year’s sudden freeze in early spring.

According to the Colorado State University Research Center, the blooms on most fruit-bearing trees — such as peaches, plums, pears and apples — have been delayed up to three weeks longer than average.

“In most respects, it’s good,” said Leif Johnson, executive director of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce, “because it significantly reduces the chances of frost hitting.”

Slower blossoming trees could push fall harvest times back as a result.

“I don’t think it will in any way affect the Peach Festival (in mid-August), but it could mean that we’ll be enjoying some of the earlier varieties instead of those that need longer growing times,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he believes there was frost damage to some trees at the coldest point this winter, but a mild spring can make up for that by yielding an exceptional fruit crop, set for harvest beginning in mid-July.

“It’s just nature’s way of weeding it all out,” he said, adding he expects fruit prices to stay the same as last year.

Johnson said it remains anybody’s guess at this point as to how the fruit will taste. That depends on what kind of heat cycles are in store for the valley this summer.

But if the Talbott family has learned anything from four generations of farming in Palisade, it’s that “April can’t be trusted,” Talbott with a laugh. “As a fruit grower, I always expect to fire up the wind generators in April.”

Johnson expects the delay in blossoms to be a rewarding sight for tourists and Sunday drivers who venture to Palisade in the coming weeks. “It’s going to just be awash in color,” he said


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