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Weather takes toll on 2014 Rocky Ford cantaloupe volume

Despite some recent hail storms and difficult spring weather in southwestern Colorado, Rocky Ford cantaloupe producers are expecting to harvest an overall volume of the signature fruit that is comparable to last season.

"Our business is 100 percent dependent on weather," said Michael Hirakata, chairman of the Rocky Ford Growers Association and general manager of Hirakata Farms. "We'll take what God gives us."RockyFordCantaloupeThis season, the Rocky Ford Growers Association expects its Rocky Ford cantaloupe harvest to be comparable to 2013 volume. (Photo courtesy of Mulligan & Co. LLC)

Hirakata said a few hail storms moved through the Rocky Ford area on July 16, affecting Rocky Ford cantaloupes, honeydews and watermelon. In all, he said approximately 100 acres of cantaloupes grown by association members were lost. This translates to overall member losses in the range of 15-25 percent, he said.

"We have replanted. The volume will still be decent," he commented.

Hirakata Farms was in expansion mode this season until weather became problematic.

"Some guys didn't take as much hit as we did," he said.

The company will eye expansion during the 2015 production season as a result.