The natural environment and climate (of warm days and cool nights), in Palisade and into the Grand Valley of Colorado is the perfect recipe for the delicious stone fruit we love so much. The summer sun heats the mesa, and the rock formations radiate warmth onto the trees during the evening hours. The temperatures then cool off overnight, bringing sweetness to the fruit.
But over the past year, we’ve witnessed some climate anomalies that have disrupted the beautiful cycle of the fruit orchards. In September 2020, after an already tough year for fruit due to a late April frost, there was an uncharacteristic early freeze that dramatically impacted many of Colorado’s beloved fruit trees.
Jeni from Ela Family Farms explains, “Fruit trees make their buds for fruit the year before they actually bloom. And some just aren't tough enough [to withstand dramatic temperature swings], like cherries. There's this awesome process where researchers can test early fruit buds to see how cold they can get before they fully freeze and rupture. That freeze point changes depending on what the trees have had a chance to acclimate to. Peaches are the next most fragile, and pears and apples are the hardiest.”
The freeze that we saw in September of 2020 turned out to be cold and long-lasting enough to damage the fruit buds in their early stages of development. In addition, the early freeze killed many of the living leaves that were still carrying nutrients into the trees, diminishing the nutrient reserves that the trees usually have going into the next season. Thus our fruit farmers could tell early on that the fruit harvest in Summer 2021 would be less than ideal once again.
As we head into the Spring, there is uncertainty about just how much of an impact last year’s fall weather will in fact have on the upcoming season. Some areas of western Colorado fared better than others, but fruit farmers are waiting in anticipation of April and May, hoping that we don’t face any dramatic Spring frosts to further hurt the crop.
Because of this unpredictability and uncertainty in how much fruit will be available this Summer, we are making the tough decision to cap our fruit shares earlier than we normally would, and wait until we know more about the state of our fruit crop. In early May, we will re-evaluate and potentially reopen fruit shares if we are able.
For the shareholders who purchase fruit shares before we sell out, we feel confident that we’ll have enough fruit for all of you to enjoy this season! Though because of the unpredictable weather events, it’s likely we may not see our first fruit harvest until mid or late July. If this is the case, we will increase your fruit quantities during the remainder of the season when fruit is more bountiful. You will still receive the same quantity of fruit that you purchased, it just may be over a shorter period of time than originally expected.
Thank you for reading, understanding, and supporting your local farmers through it all. Here’s to hoping it’s a smooth and pleasant Spring season to help revive our orchards!