A great deal of time during the first ten to fifteen years
was spent testing crops and varieties to determine whether they
could be successfully grown and marketed from this area. Over
100 "crop species", including shade trees and shrubs,
and many times that in varieties, were planted at the Center.
Special emphasis was given to tree fruits, sugar beets and cantaloupes.
The turn of the century saw a number of orchards, mostly apple,
established in the area; two beet sugar factories built in 1900
and the Rocky Ford cantaloupe industry recognized throughout
the United States.
Research efforts, in the years between 1900 and 1932, were
scaled back to accommodate reduced land area and the title of
Superintendent was changed to Field Agent, with responsibility
for working directly with growers to solve production problems.
However, considerable research effort was continued on the Center
and directed towards cantaloupe disease, alfalfa forage and seed
production, sugar beet production and investigation into sod.
In 1922 a soils laboratory was set up and a chemist hired to
study the effect of soil nitrates on crop production. It was
the contention of some that high soil nitrates were adversely
affecting alfalfa seed production and purity of sugar in beet
production. This study culminated in 1930. It was during the
twenties that efforts to develop a better onion variety began.
The cantaloupe industry started to decline and the onion began
to take its place as the premier vegetable crop in the area.
Breeding projects, cultural practices and variety tests became
the research focus in the years between 1930 and 1945. These
included work on onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, soybeans, peas,
spring and fall grains, hybrid corn and sorghum, small fruits
and, as always, alfalfa. It was during this time the research
effort began to seriously emphasize the management of pest problems
in the various crops in the Valley. Bindweed had become a major
pest and significant effort was directed towards this problem.
Due to increased crop losses caused by pests and increased
labor costs, particularly related to weed control, the major
part of the research effort between 1945 and the early 1980's
was directed towards managing the pest problems in crop production.
In the late 1940's a plant pathologist was hired at the University
whose primary responsibility was to carry out research on the
onion disease problems in the Arkansas Valley. In 1961 an entomologist
was hired and assigned to the Center to work on insect problems
of the Valley. These positions were instigated and supported
by grower groups in the area.
The research outlined above continues to some extent in the
present but emphasis during the last ten years has turned to
production efficiency and environmental protection as evidenced
by projects on tillage practices and fertilizer, irrigation and
pest management. The 1991 addition of a vegetable crop scientist
to the staff has enhanced this research.