The Southwestern Colorado Research Center (SWCRC) is a 155-acre research farm located 15 miles north of Cortez on County Road Z in Yellow Jacket, CO.
Colorado State University and other land grant universities were established with the Morrill Act of 1862 which provided for public higher education by establishing colleges in every state and territory endowed through grants of public lands. The passage of the Hatch Act in 1887 provided research at these institutions by authorizing a state agricultural experiment station for each state to support the educational mission. The Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), an integral part of Colorado State University (CSU), was established in 1888 as a result of the Colorado General Assembly having ratified during the preceding year the provisions of the Hatch Act. Thus, creating the Colorado Agriculture Experiment Station that currently includes Southwestern Colorado Research Center and a total of 9 research center sites in Colorado.
SWCRC was established in 1981 when the State Board of Agriculture purchased 155 acres in Yellow Jacket to establish the research center. Water from the Dolores Project was delivered to SWCRC for the first time in June 1987. Currently, 20 acres are maintained for dryland research and the remaining acres are irrigated with a 40-acre center pivot, side rolls and limited drip irrigation. At an elevation of 6,900 feet it is the second highest elevation research center in Colorado. SWCRC conducts research on a variety of crops including: alfalfa, beans, wheat, sunflowers, sorghum, cover crops, hemp and emerging specialty crops.
A three-acre research and demonstration orchard was established in 1991 and is jointly maintained by CSU Extension-Dolores County, CSU Extension–Montezuma County and SWCRC. Presently, evaluations are ongoing with 75 different fruit tree varieties including 21 field apples, 43 trellised apple varieties, two apple varieties planted in a “super high density,” five peach varieties, four pear varieties, and three plum varieties. Also being studied are one raspberry variety and 14 grass varieties. The orchard has 600 visitors each year, including people picking apples at you-picks, school tours, educational workshops and Master Gardener events.
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