For Colorado farmers, the landscape serves as both hindrance and advantage. It’s true that rainfall is scarce in many areas, and much of the mountain terrain is too high and too cold to nurture extensive cultivation. But the land’s diversity is also its strength—Colorado’s prairies, foothills, rivers, mountain parks, valleys, mesas, and desert country all possess their natural contributions to farming and ranching. Over time, Coloradoans learned how to persuade this land to bear fruit.
Colorado's agricultural experience testifies to the state’s natural advantages:
The ranching boom of the 1870s and 1880s, when Colorado prairie grasses provided surprisingly nutritious feed.
The sugar beet craze between 1900 and 1950; at its peak, Colorado produced more sugar than any other state.
A lamb fattening industry that utlized the beet tops and pulp that attended sugar production.
Successful orchards of apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and more.
Ambitious—and sometimes disastrous—efforts to dry farm the eastern plains.
Sustained production of melons, celery, flowers, and other specialty crops.
Steady streams of historic in-migration of farm workers, transforming the ethnic identity of rural areas.
Wellington beet farmers on a tractor. Through the Leaves, Great Western Sugar Company, May-June, 1943, 47.