Fruit farmers prepare for roller coaster of temperatures

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PALISADE, Colo, (KJCT) -- Last month was on track to be one of the warmest February’s on record, until the cold moved in this weekend.

Charlie Talbott said the snow can actually be beneficial for crops, as it acts as an insulator, but it's the really sub-freezing overnight temps farmers have to be worried about.

Talbott has an app on his phone that sounds alarms when the orchard staff needs to get outside and prepare for the chill.

Fans are scattered across the Palisade orchard to help get rid of the cold air, and to help bring warmer air to the orchard floor. Anytime the overnight lows drop below 20 they have to start turning on the fans.

Talbott said there about 50 fans that reach about 10 acres each. It takes about 5 to 7 minutes to get each fan going, so when a cold snap does hit, it takes a large team to get everything protected.

“There is no pushing a button, you start the engine, you bring it to full throttle...if its critical you don't have time,” said Talbott.

The National Weather Service said the lowest recorded temperature in Grand Junction in February was 13 degrees on Sunday the 26th.

At this time of year, some crops are more sensitive to the cold than others. Right now, peaches are pretty hearty but apricots and cherries could be in danger of the cold.

Though the weather in spring and winter can be unpredictable, the outlook is still good.

“That’s how it is in the Spring and Winter, It’s very much of a roller coaster,” Lyons said.

“As we stands right now, we have full potential for an amazing crop of everything, the next 8 weeks will kind of tell the tale,” said Talbott.

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