Growers are praying for rain |

Growers are praying for rain

Western Slope growers who bring their fresh-picked produce to Aspen each week are keeping their fingers crossed and praying for rain this season.

Anyone who savors the Aspen Saturday Market’s selection of fruits and veggies ought to do the same, advised Jack D’Orio, a Paonia farmer who coordinates the market.

“Gosh, we haven’t seen any moisture here for a good six weeks,” he said Tuesday. “We could very well see some severe drought problems. It’s got a lot of farmers, a lot of fruit growers worried.”

D’Orio’s vegetable farm depends on water that runs directly off an adjacent mountain range. He has no idea when that source will dry up, but predictions that Colorado may suffer its worst drought conditions since 1977 are not comforting.

There is some good news, though, according to D’Orio. There has been no widespread, spring frost of the kind that can decimate a fruit crop. The potential for a destructively cold night, however, has not yet passed, he said.

In Palisade, the fruit crop “looks excellent,” said Peter Forte, one of the vendors at Aspen’s market.

Water to irrigate Forte’s orchards comes from the Colorado River and he said he has been told the supply should be adequate. Little precipitation, however, has fallen from the sky this spring.

“I’ve never really seen it like this,” Forte said.

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