Famous Palisade peaches scarce this year because of late spring freeze

DENVER — A summer favorite, struggling after a spring freeze. People looking for Palisade peaches at supermarkets are leaving disappointed.

People like Susan Conroy. “Well, when you go to the store you get peaches that are from California, and not from Colorado.” Conroy says the taste just isn’t the same. “They’re not ripe, and when they do ripen they don’t taste very good.”

Large supermarkets can’t keep up with their normal supply of Palisade peaches, because local growers only salvaged 20-40 prcent of their spring crops, after an unusual spring freeze.

Mike Shepler of Tony’s Market in Denver says larger markets have local peaches, but, “they don’t have enough to keep them throughout the entire season.”

The shortage is affecting everyone from local shoppers, to local fundraisers. The Rotary Club of Golden (http://www.goldenrotarypeaches.org/) typically raises up to $25,000 a year by selling peaches for charities. Kevin Nichol says they’ve had to look elsewhere this year. “We can’t get our peaches from Palisade this year, so this year we’ve had to go outside the state to Utah.”

Smaller stores like Tony’s Market buy peaches on a much smaller scale than supermarkets, so local suppliers are able to keep up with quality product.

Mike Shepler is a buyer with Tony’s and says good relationships with farmers give them good peaches. “We get first crop, we get first pick.”

Farmers’ markets also have a steady supply of local peaches, simply because they don’t sell as many, and they’re often straight from the farm. Collin Webster operates The Fruit Stand at the Cherry Creek Farmers’ Market and says the shortage of peaches, “shouldn’t affect what we do down here. on a large scale level, people buying tens of thousands of boxes at a time, they might see some loss.”

Prices are up slightly though. At Tony’s Market, local peaches are $3.49 a pound. Shepler says, it’s only slightly higher than normal, because if it gets too high – that’s bad for business. “Understand, if I put these peaches up to $4.99, I’m not going to sell as many.”