The Western Colorado Research Center at Fruita serves the agricultural interests of 14 counties in northwest and west central Colorado. Research on integrated cropping systems is conducted across western Colorado from Hayden, Craig, Meeker, Rifle, Grand Junction, Fruita, Delta, Olathe, and Montrose. This area comprises nearly 20 million acres, representing nearly 30% of the total land area of the state. In total, this region of the state contains a large amount of land used for agriculture and the market value of the agricultural products in this region exceeds $260 million annually.
The Western Colorado region poses opportunities, challenges, constraints, and limitations to agriculture and agricultural research. High water alkalinity, variable soils, limited precipitation, seasonal water availability, and cold injury are some of the challenges. In some areas of the region, producers are mainly limited to wheat and forages. Also, producers in western Colorado are isolated from many of the major markets for their crops.
To support western Colorado agriculture, we conduct research on crop varieties, cropping systems, and related research. A broad research approach has been taken in order to address as many needs and create as many opportunities as possible.
Current research covers a wide range of topics including grass seed production, perennial grass biomass to biofuel, subsurface drip in agronomic crops, a versatile low-cost weighing hopper for small-plot field research, a kura clover living mulch cropping system, no-till N management in a corn/winter wheat rotation; double cropping dry bean after winter barley; evaluating early-maturing winter barley varieties; developing popping dry beans; potential of sunflower as a rubber-producing crop; pasture grass, forage legume, and mixed species evaluation; performance of hay conditioners for baling hay at higher moisture contents; evaluation of alfalfa breeding material for stem nematode resistance; alfalfa, dry bean, corn (grain and silage), canola, and small grain cultivar performance tests; evaluation of various new products and potential new crops for western Colorado.
Agronomic research findings conducted in the western Colorado region are communicated to broad audiences including scientific and agricultural groups and organizations, governmental and non-governmental agencies, private industry, service organizations, and policymakers by using a diversity of technical and popular media in written, oral, and electronic forms. A wide library of publications from the Western Colorado Research Center can be found at the CSU Agricultural Experiment Station Online Library or the Colorado Digital Collections Agricultural and Natural Resources Archive