Agricultural research in southwestern Colorado began at the San Juan Basin Research Center near Hesperus in1921. The major emphasis was to identify crop species and varieties adapted to the high altitudes of southwestern Colorado. The crops grown included grasses, clovers, alfalfa, field peas, corn, potatoes, dry beans, sugar beets, small grains, and vegetables. Research was conducted on both irrigated and dryland sites. The present 158 acre farm located 15 miles north of Cortez on County Road Z was purchased by the State Board of Agriculture in 1981.
The Southwestern Colorado Research Center is part of a network of 8 research centers (9 sites) throughout the state.