Love Colorado Chiles? Well, There May Be a Shortage This Year
The Pueblo chile is one of Colorado’s signature agricultural products.
Last year, the Colorado Department of Agriculture reported that 61% of people were aware they were purchasing Pueblo chiles in particular. In 2016, only 34% were aware, meaning Pueblo’s signature export has only gotten more popular.
This weekend, Pueblo will host its Chile and Frijoles Festival to promote the city’s agricultural community. However, the Colorado Sun reported that Pueblo’s chile harvest has experienced a sharp decline this year. It has led farmers throughout the community to scramble for better results.
Why Has Pueblo Chile Not Grown Well This Year?
If you have been in Colorado over the last few months, you’ve experienced volatile weather. Beginning in May and continuing through most of June, Colorado had one of its rainiest periods in over a decade. In combination with intense rain, Colorado also experienced thunderstorms that created monstrous hailstorms.
Then, in July and August, the rain largely subsided, in its wake leaving a hot and arid environment. Colorado experienced an incredible heatwave during this time, with July 2023 officially becoming the hottest month for the state on record. Then, the beginning of September brought with it not only more rain but cooler temperatures.
How Has the Weather Affected the Growth of Pueblo Chile?
The Colorado Sun notes that these conflicting weather patterns arose during the primary time these chiles are planted and harvested. Most Pueblo chiles are planted beginning in late spring months, like April.
May’s hailstorms beat down on the fields in the early stages of the chiles’ growth cycle. Not to mention, the rapid changes from drought conditions to uncharacteristically wet weather, then finally to record-breaking heat waves, set the harvest back. This has been a problem for chile farmers and the agricultural industry as a whole.
How Thin is This Year’s Harvest of Pueblo Chile?
This year’s harvest has yielded fewer Pueblo chiles than in the past. For example, the Colorado Sun reported that Mauro Farms and Bakery only brought in 70 bushels on their first day of picking. In a typical year, they would bring in 500.
The chiles have not had time to mature properly, and many farmers hope temperatures do not drop and that the rain will stop for the time being.
Will I Be Able to Get Pueblo Chile This Year?
While the harvest certainly is much smaller this year, Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival attendees shouldn’t fret about a lack of their favorite peppers. However, shipments of Pueblo chile outside the festival will likely be smaller this year.
With all this being said, if you feel frustrated in the coming months over a lack of your favorite Colorado chile, remember the strife many Colorado chile producers have gone through this year. Many farms that grow and harvest chiles deserve support, whether through buying their Pueblo chile products when available or through the other crops they almost certainly produce.