It’s been a crazy spring all over the world, but Colorado’s Western Slope got hit with something else: a late season frost the likes of which haven’t been seen in over 20 years. In Hotchkiss and Paonia, temperatures got down to 14 degrees. Palisade got down to the low 20’s but their fruit was almost entirely in bloom, a recipe for disaster. We headed to the areas last week to check in with our growers and see how they were managing.
Our first stop was the first grower we ever bought fruit from back in 2014. A bird-deterring hawk was flapping in the wind. It seemed to have minimal effect as our grower told us all he was doing that day was trying to keep the birds out of his field. “I think I’ve got just about every bird in Colorado here on my cherries this morning,” he said.
We spoke about how this grower seemed to survive most of the late season frost and had a decent cherry crop. We saw some of our favorite variates like Benton growing thick.
They also had some varieties we’ve never tried before, so we’re excited about that. We even have some processing ideas how we can get more, deeper flavors out of the fruit. Getting to try my first Colorado fruit of the season almost brought a tear to my eye.
We then headed to Palisade to check in with a few growers there. Things got depressing fast. A grower that we got over 20,000 pounds of fruit from last year got completely wiped out. Not just of apricots and cherries. But everything. Every peach, plum and nectarine. We brought them beer that used their fruit.
We finished with a grower who has some peaches and pluots, so that at least brings us some hope for the 2020 fruit season. Cheers!