Drought takes Western CO by storm, but won’t harm peaches, grapes

Local News

PALISADE, Colo. — Western Colorado is dry, but Harry Talbott with Talbott Farm’s sense of humor isn’t. “What’s causing the drought first of all, it’s an election year, and you know the hot air going around, ” says Talbott. 

Talbott farms has experienced drought a time or two, but Harry says his family of farmers adheres to a strict irrigation schedule, and has adapted and overcame many obstacles over many years. Harry jokingly says, “I’ve been in the peach business for 100 years, more or less.” Talbott’s peach orchards were doing quite peachy in 2019. “Last year we packed about 8 million pounds, ” says Talbott.

This year, Talbott Farms peach crop is only 15% of that and the town of Palisade is feeling the pinch. As the Food Bank of the Rockies truck backs in to Talbott’s warehouse, Harry comments, “In a normal year when we had a peach crop there’d be semis backing up there and we would load 4-6 a day.”

Now, during COVID-19, and after the record freeze in October, and then again in April, it’s a different situation. “we aren’t running anything now. We’re just trying to get through the year,” says Talbott.
Harry Talbott says no rain, no problem because peaches are tough, and the peach crop can fight its way out of a drought, but he also says that Talbott Farm’s peach orchards lost the fight to the freeze in April. He explains peaches are a desert crop. The fuzz on the peach protects it from losing precious moisture from evaporation, but it doesn’t protect it from frost. Talbott says, “One freeze. Just a few hours of this hard freeze and cold wind and we couldn’t even save them with the wind machines.”

Luckily, Talbott Farms has another crop that didn’t freeze and people travel hundreds of miles to get a taste. Jeremy Ortiz traveled from Denver with Kristine Lequerique to take a Pali-tour. Jeremy says, “She wanted to do the wineries, and I figured we might as well do a water to wine tour with the Pali-tours.” “Yeah, we started on the river this morning and then came out to the wineries this afternoon,” says Kristine. One local grape grower says lack of water’s not the problem because the grapes are obviously growing. Mr. Talbott says the drought facing Western Colorado isn’t impacting the vineyards, but the lack of customers is, and it’s because of COVID-19. Harry says “They canceled the wine fest this year, you know, even though it’s in September.”

For more information on Talbott Farms, or if you want to go to the Talbott Farm’s Tap Room to try a glass of wine, cider, or for Talbott’s Mountain Gold, click here. https://www.talbottfarms.com

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