What growers are doing to combat the spring freeze

These frost and freeze conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. However, our local growers prepare ahead.
What Growers are Doing to Combat the Freeze Warning
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 12:04 AM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - There is a freeze warning in effect in the Grand Valley Tuesday night from 9 p.m. through 11 a.m. Wednesday morning.

These frost and freeze conditions can kill crops and other sensitive vegetation. However, our local growers prepare ahead.

”Spring frost is our biggest single risk factor in growing peaches in Colorado,” said Talbott Farm Manager Bruce Talbott.

At Talbott Farms in Palisade, their peaches and cherries are currently the fruits at risk for this specific freeze warning. Winemakers say right now, grapes are not at risk with a freeze. But in a week or two, grapes will be more susceptible. Thankfully they have wind machines that blow warm air onto the crops.

“They’re just fans on the top of a tower and the purpose is to break an inversion or to pull warm air from up above and blow out cold air that’s forming near the fruit surfaces and near the ground,” said Bruce.

They usually warm the air two to four degrees on cold nights, which doesn’t seem like much but can save 90% of the crops that would otherwise get frozen.

“If we’re overcast or the wind’s blowing, there’s nothing we can do and the wind machines are ineffective,” said Bruce. “But as soon as it clears off and gets still, then the wind machines are very valuable.”

Charles, Bruce’s son, explains how they divide and conquer with teamwork as a family.

“We will all be out there as soon as the temperature gets below 32 degrees,” said Talbott & Sons Director of Operations Charles Talbott. “We split up in teams and spread all across the valley to start turning on wind machines. They’re motors with a propeller at the top that have to be hand started and the propeller has to be engaged by hand as well.”

So far they have very little damage.12 hours after the frost they can evaluate the orchards and determine what their loss percentage was.

“Without us all working together, we can’t mitigate the frost,” said Charles. “So it’s a real team family effort to make sure we can farm another year.”

Although this freeze warning expires at 11 a.m. Wednesday, a second freeze warning will go into effect Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. and will expire Thursday morning at 9 a.m. in the Grand Valley.

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