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Cold Snaps Bookend Shortest Front Range Growing Season In 30 Years

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Luke Runyon
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KUNC and Harvest Public Media
Front Range farmers are attuned to how quickly weather can change. Fort Collins this year saw the earliest freeze since 1974.

With a late spring cold snap, and an early September freeze, climate data show the 2014 summer was the shortest growing season in more than 30 years along Colorado’s Front Range.

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Credit Wendy Ryan / Colorado Climate Center
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Colorado Climate Center
Fort Collins had its shortest growing season since 1983.

From frost to frost, the growing season in Fort Collins was just 123 days. A little further south in Denver, gardeners enjoyed just 121 productive growing days. Overall, that’s more than a month shorter than average. Usually Fort Collins’ growing season is 156 days, and 155 days in Denver. This was the shortest growing season since 1983.

“Our last spring freeze was May 13th and our first fall freeze was September 13th and that was the earliest freeze we’ve had since 1974,” says Wendy Ryan, a climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins.

The shortened season choked off some varieties of crops for gardeners and farmers. It was also marked by several hail storms in between the freezes. But when looking at the historical record, Ryan says the past decade has been relatively warm and dry and this latest growing season could actually be a return to normal.

Still, not even climatologists are immune to the seemingly schizophrenic weather patterns.

“I can attest to the fact that I still have plenty of green tomatoes in my garden,” Ryan says.

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