In Colorado’s peach country, the season that wasn’t |

In Colorado’s peach country, the season that wasn’t

Josie Sexton, Denver Post
Nina Riggio, Special to the Denver Post Candido Arias and Mario Chavira Lopez pick the highest peaches in the early morning light in Palisade, Colorado, on Aug. 29, 2019.

From market stands to restaurant menus, anyone looking around Denver at the end of summer can see proof of Colorado’s peach harvest. But some 200 miles west, in swaths of the state’s peach-growing capital, the tractor-trailers have all but stopped running and the farm workers have largely gone home.

“Usually I would see 15 or 20 trucks a day leaving the peach-packing facilities, and I haven’t seen one in several days,” Palisade farmer Scott High told The Denver Post last week. “We would sell in excess of a million pounds of peaches (normally), and we’re not selling any this year. So there’s a million pounds less just from our company alone.”

At High’s 188-acre High Country Orchards — and many other farms in Mesa County — the peach crop was decimated this year literally overnight, when a freeze early in the morning of April 14 caught the trees’ blossoms by surprise and sent farmers into a panic, the likes of which they hadn’t experienced in over 20 years.

“I’ve been farming since 1999,” High said, “and this is the first time we’ve lost a crop.”

During an already trying year, Colorado peach farmers watched this summer as crop yields swung wildly between zero and 100%. For consumers around the state, that meant less of a precious summer commodity — the Palisade peach — but more fruits filling in from the state’s other peach-growing parts. You can still find Palisade peaches, too, if you know where to look.

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