Best Types of Crops for A Boulder, CO Farm

Boulder Farming

 

Overview

Farming is one of the most reliable ways of earning a steady income. The resources for farming are readily available; one does not need advanced skills in order to engage in farming. With an increasing number of Americans shying from farming, there is less competition and more opportunities. Needless to say, there are some parts of America where farming is suitable, and there are others where farming is not a sustainable economic endeavor.

This paper explores farming and types of crops grown in Boulder, Colorado.

Background

Boulder County, Colorado, has a very rich history in agriculture. It has been a history of large wheat farms as well as feeding the workers who were working in the mining sector. Colorado is a state that is known for its great diversity and different geographical and climatic conditions. Colorado is composed of mesas, mountains, plateaus, and plains.

The soil at Boulder is alkaline and is clayish, and therefore, it can be difficult to change. When you irrigate the Boulder land, or the rain falls, water is retained. This is either good or bad depending on the situation and the type of crop that should be grown.

In Colorado, soils can be well draining, and moisture can be held well. Therefore, if you decide to do farming at Boulder, you might require to do less watering of your crops. Addition of compost plays a critical role in enhancing rich soils.

However, like any other parts of the US, the size of the acreage has reduced, and a significant number of people are leaving farming in order to engage in other activities. This is due to the rising cost of agriculture, and a lure to better earning opportunities beyond Boulder. This is more so as pertaining to the younger generation of farmers.

Best Types of Crops for A Boulder, CO Farm

Melon

Rocky Fold, Colorado, is known for its sweet melons. The peak season for melon at Boulder is August. However, storms and fail has a negative effect on the growing of melon in Boulder, and the farmers have cried foul over this issue for many years. There have also been cases where high winds affected the melon yield, with the wind breaking some fruits. The irony is that in the cases of drought, the melon crop tends to do very well. Hot and dry weather helps in increasing the sugar content of the melon crop, resulting in delicious products.

One of the most established growers of melon at Boulder are the Rocky Ford Growers Association. The organization has accumulated vast experience in this sector and its reputation is unparalleled. The farmers, mostly family members, harvest melons every day, and the melons are available at the grocers in a span of 12 hours. It has reliable members of staff who play an important role in pushing the agenda of the farm.

The Rocky Ford Growers Association is known for their use of cutting-edge technology. GPS-guided tractors are used in the farm, as well as the row coverings that help in reducing evaporation. The use of cutting edge technology helps in reducing the amount of fuel used in a day, and it helps in protecting the baby plants and drip lines.

Grapes Vines

Beginning in the last century, there has been extensive grapes farming at Boulder. As a matter of fact, vineyard acreage has increased over the years. This is due to the culture of giving visitors a glass of wine, or meeting friends over wine rather than a cup of coffee.

However, the biggest challenge in grape farming in Colorado is that grapes may not be able to withstand cold temperatures during winter. Thus, if a farmer decides to grow grapes at Boulder, one should use strong viti-cultural skills as well as varietal selection.

There are four main mistakes that a grape farmer in Colorado should avoid and these are the following:

-Planting grapes in an area with poor drainage

-Purchase of poor quality vines

-Planting grapes when it is too late in the season

-A big acreage which can stretch human resource and physical farming resources

Stonebridge Farm, Boulder, is one of the farms which grow grapes vines in Colorado. The farm boasts of 150 vines which are under cultivation. The farm has existed for over 25 years, and it is a community farm. The farm offers short courses, for instance, on grape pruning.

Corn Growing

Colorado has never been categorized as a corn belt. That notwithstanding, growth of corn in Colorado has increased rapidly, and the state has one of the highest yields in corn production. Corn grows best in areas which are hot, areas with sufficient moisture, and areas which do not have overly cool nights. Due to this, corn in Colorado may not attain the right size, but it is a rewarding crop all the same and farmers are able to over-come such challenges.

Sweet corn from Boulder has found its way in American stores all over the country. The research and development work by David Galinat led to a corn product which has a higher level of sugar when compared to the normal variety of corn. He was one of the most passionate people when it comes to research and teaching about sweet corn.

Boulder farmers participate in the Olathe Sweet Corn Festival. The festival was started by Dave Galinet who had moved to Olathe. Many years before the festival, the town was facing hard economic times. Then the fortunes of the town started changing mainly through the efforts of agriculture which led to sustainability. The festival is now one of the most agricultural events in the country.

Sugar Beets

Sugar beets have been grown since 1900 and they were mostly grown by the Germans. The farms which were established then have been passed down from generation to generation and some are still productive even in the modern generation. Paul, a 63 year old farmer, stated that sugar beets are part and parcel of his heritage. He has been farming them throughout his adult life. When sugar beet is grown at Colorado, it is converted into white table sugar.

At some point in history, sugar beet was a cash crop in Colorado. However, over the years, a harsh economic reality faced the sugar beet farmers, the net prices dwindled, and the farmers started looking for viable alternatives. Not to mention beets have a distinct dye and when brought into a house could cause enough damage to have to do a remodel Boulder CO farm house job. Even with such challenges, some farmers persisted, and they are now able to benefit from technology in order to grow sugar beet more efficiently. With the use of modern technology, farmers do not have to use a large acreage to do farming. In addition to that, they do not have to do the burning of the soil.

Vegetables

Vegetables are very important in ensuring the right diet and a healthy lifestyle, and their role in health cannot be underestimated. The problem, then, becomes how a state can grow its own vegetables and sustain itself. Colorado has made an aggressive effort in order to ensure that the state can feed itself and meet the demand for vegetables.

For example, the Urban Farm is a perfect example par excellence when it comes to the growth of vegetables. With its raised gardens, the farm is a training institute where it trains interested Boulder residents on how to farm and helps them in making critical decisions. The farm has the following selling pints for its gardens:

-One chooses what to grow in the farm depending on one’s needs and preferences

-The urban farm does all the installation for the interested farmer

-Farmers get to eat their own food, and healthy food for that matter. Growing own food is craftsmanship, idealism, as well as self-sufficiency.

-It concentrates on the growth of organic food

-Gardening should be easy and fun

The farm has identified the following crops as the easiest to grow: tomatoes, beans, brasil, and leafy greens. The farm has identified the most difficult farms to grow which are: watermelon, sweetcorn, potatoes, and brussel sprouts. The urban farms controls the conditions in the farm including timing of the planting, plant spacing, soil depth, and soil composition.

Herbs

Herbs love Boulder, and the resident of Boulder love herbs. Dozens of herbs can be grown in Colorado, and unlike some types of plants, they can grow the year round. Farmers at Boulder notice the good combination between growing of herbs and beekeeping. Many herbs produce sweet nectar, and this is a very good condition for bee keeping. Bees find flowering herbs a very good treat for their affinity to sweet things.

There is a general consensus among Boulder farmers that the herb contest is comfortably won by basil. The Italian basil has a huge following in the culinary world. In addition to that, the African Blue Bush is known for being rich in ingredients.

The importance of herbs in homes cannot be underestimated. They are an important source of medicinal value. Herbs can be used as part of landscaping and in enhancing the aesthetics of the home.

Threats to Agriculture in Boulder County, Colorado

The greatest threat to agriculture in Boulder County is the increasing cost of property in Boulder County, Colorado. This makes it very difficult for the county to record start-up projects in agriculture due to the high initial capital. As a matter of fact, some interested upcoming farmers never make it in places such as Boulder.

There have been changes in the way modern farming is done compared to traditional farming, and this has negatively affected the agricultural sector at Boulder. Today, there is a reduction in open farming, and the empowerment of the resident farmer is greatly eroded.

Like some parts of the US, the agricultural plains of Colorado have been a source of fires. Fires can leave the farmers devastated, as they lose their crop as well as farm property. Some farmers have lost their lives trying to quell their fires.

It is one thing to read about global warming in the news, and it is another thing to go through such experiences when you are a farmer. Climate change affects agriculture either directly or indirectly. These is due to the following changes in circumstances:

-Changes in the average temperatures of a certain region

-Extreme temperatures, a heat wave for instance

-Changes in the amount of rainfall

-More pests and diseases

-A change in the nutritional quality of food

Pessimists of climate change call it an illusion and deny its existence. But the results are out there for everyone to see, and the farmers are the most affected due to the impact of climate change. Unless something is done about climate change, and done in a hurry, the agricultural sector in North America will record heavy losses.

University of Colorado, Boulder, carried out a study on soil degradation in the state. The study notes with concern that soil fertility in the state has continued to decline over the years making it very hard for farmers to attain optimal yields. Corn farmers have to make use of fertilizers every year in order to attain the right yields.

However much you may try to change the conditions of agriculture in Colorado, sometimes you may not make it. In short, you are stuck with the crop that others are growing. The best thing is to accept the conditions on farm. For example, the decision to farm blue berries can be a difficult and expensive one. Researchers at Colorado State University have done pioneering research on how blue berries can be grown in Colorado.

Conclusion

Boulder, Colorado, offers a lot of potential when it comes to farming and agriculture. It is just a matter of carrying out the right research and development. If one decides to do farming in Boulder, then it should start with making decisions based on the specific locality. There are some challenges, but farming at Boulder, with the right strategies can be lucrative. Overall, if you decide to do farming at Boulder, you can never get it wrong.

What Crops the State of Washington Produces

Washington Apple Production

 

 

Washington State has a diverse geography that creates an endless variety of growing regions – from the moist hillside on the Western part to rolling plains on Eastern Washington. Furthermore, the production facilities are located near rail lines, cold storage facilities, and major transportation corridors. Let’s look at the top Washington Crops that represent a significant portion of the state’s economy.

 

Potatoes

The combination of mineral-rich alluvial soil and sun gives Washington the perfect conditions to grow potatoes. It’s the third most popular crop that gives Washington a value of over $690 million. It’s estimated that over 80% of the total production is sold to processors who transform them into creamy mashed potatoes, crunch chips, and golden fries.

Unlike other Washington Crops, potatoes are planted in April and mid-august. And depending on the weather conditions, they can take about 90-120 days to harvest. Being a cool-season crop, potatoes thrive in the west of Cascade Mountains – along the Yakima Valley and the Columbia River east of Vancouver.

What makes potatoes one of the most successful Washington crops? Compared to other growing areas in the US, potatoes from this state are nutrient-dense. They have more potassium than bananas and provide more than the daily requirement of vitamin C. In addition to that, potatoes contain trace elements like:

  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamin
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Folate

After the Second World War, the Colombia basin of central Washington became the most productive area for potatoes. It’s now the second nationally state that produces different varieties for commercial purposes and export.

Another reason why potatoes are one of the major Washington crops is the huge economic impact. Currently, this agricultural crop accounts for about $772 million in annual income in the state. You’ll be surprised to learn that 99% of potato farms in the US are family-owned.

Other scholars believe potatoes are the top Washington crops due to the versatility as recipe ingredients. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. Not to mention, you can take them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. And that’s why they account for a bigger percentage of vegetables recommended for good health.

Wheat

Wheat accounts for about $790 million of Washington’s economy. So, why is it one of the most valuable Washington crops? It’s estimated that about 2.3 million acres are set aside for wheat every year. And because the industry employs thousands of workers, it plays a key role in the growth of the economy.

Since about 90% of wheat is for export, farmers do a lot to ensure a good harvest. For instance, they must protect the crops from pests and diseases.

The eastern side of Washington is known for soft white and club wheat production. Washington is also the home to the low protein wheat commonly used in crackers, cookies, and the making of flatbreads.

Other wheat classes are the red spring (grown on the northern tier of the country) and the hard red winter (grown in the Midwest). The wheat variety is classified as follows:

  • Club
  • Soft white
  • Hard red winter
  • Hard red spring
  • Western white

The soft red winter wheat is grown on the eastern part of Mississippi, while the hard white grows on the foothills of Colorado, Nebraska, Idaho, and Kansas. It’s worth mentioning that about 20% of wheat grown in Washington is the hard red spring wheat.

In 2020, Washington recorded a total production of about 165 million bushels. But the yields depend on the time of the year. During winter, the yield per acre is estimated at 76 bushels while the spring season gives about 61 bushels per acre.

Here are a few facts that make wheat one of the top Washington crops:

  • Once the wheat berries are milled, the other by-products like brans are used as animal feed
  • A combined harvester can do 1000 bushels per hour
  • One bushel of wheat can give 48 pounds of floor
  • About 20% of world calories come from products made from wheat
  • One acre of wheat can feed a family of four off bread for ten years

Apples

Since 1989, Washington has been producing about 42% of all the apples grown in the US – half of these are grown for fresh consumption. The state boasts of rich fertile soils, plentiful water, arid climates, and advanced growing practices.

The harvesting season begins every August. And the reason why apples are one of the best Washington crops is the unique varieties. Since the apples are handpicked, they maintain quality, not to mention, this prevents bruising. There are no harvest machines.

While there are hundreds of varieties of apples across the United States, eight of them are grown in Washington. And the flavors range from mild to sweet. In terms of texture, you can choose light to a crisp texture.

Washington produces many varieties including:

  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Golden delicious
  • Red delicious
  • Cameo
  • Pink lady
  • Jonagold
  • Braeburn

According to recent statistics, the researchers found that about 12 billion apples are harvested each year. The reason why apples are one of the best Washington crops in the state is low diseases and the absence of pests.

Grapes

Washington grapes account for about $308 million of total GDP. Because the weather is a key factor, it’s no wonder grapes are regarded as one of the top Washington crops that give a massive boost to the economy.

For grapes to thrive in the farmlands, the sun must be adequate. Washington receives about 300 days of sun per year due to the incredibly long days. But in the Southerly wine regions, the growing season is shorter. From a scientific standpoint, the sun helps in photosynthesis and plays a key role in ripening.

Compared to other regions that receive rainy weather in spring and fall, Washington has the highest altitude. Eastern Washington has the highest altitude while the western part experiences some cloudy conditions.

But the main reason why grapes are among the best Washington crops is the fact that vineyards are fungus-free. This means that only a few anti-fungicides are required throughout the growth period. The eastern side of Washington is fungus-free due to the arid climate.

On the other hand, Washington has incredible sources of water as most farmers rely on irrigation. This helps the farmers to manage the grapes by controlling the amount of water that gets into the vineyards. Just like other top Washington crops, the farmers can rely on the Mountain Rivers. Apart from the massive Columbia River on the eastern side of Washington, you’ll find other rivers like the Blue Mountains, Rockies, and cascades.

When growing grapes on a large scale, unity is key. There is an organization that teaches farmers how to increase the quality of grapes. The soil temperature also matters as it influences things like:

  • The soil texture
  • Skin color
  • Flavor compounds
  • Tannins
  • Seed color and texture

To ensure balanced sugars and crisp acidity, the day to night temperature variability maters. The cool evenings preserve the acid and add freshness and balance.

Hay

Every time you mention the top Washington crops, hay farming can’t miss on the list. One of the top varieties is Timothy hay. It has high-fiber content that allows for good conditioning of livestock.

Hay thrives well in different climates due to the shallow root system. It also grows well in summer and cool springs. Once hay is harvested, it’s stored in areas with high winds to dry naturally.

Vegetables

The Pacific Northwest soils make Washington a great state for growing a variety of veggies. In higher elevations like the Columbia Basin, the growing season can extend up to 180 days. But the reason why vegetables are the top Washington crops is the varying weather conditions. Because fall and winter months are relatively quiet, veggies thrive well.

Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli are common in many Washington gardens. Most farmers also grow lettuce and salad greens on large scale. They grow well in late spring or early summer before the heat sets in. Other veggies that form part of Washington crops include:

  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Cornsalad
  • Chicory

Raspberries

Did you know that more than 60% of raspberries in the US come from Washington? Most of them are grown on the Northwest corner of the state with a few varieties just south of the Canadian border.

The top variety that makes raspberries part of the best Washington crops is the red raspberry – which forms about 95% of red raspberry production, which shows amazing leadership coaching.

During the first year of growth, the fruits develop into biennial canes. But after the first year of growth, the cans develop fruit buds. After harvesting, the canes are selected for the next phase of production. Because most varieties are tolerant to diseases, the raspberries come with refined color and texture. Some of the varieties that do well include:

  • Chilliwack
  • Cowichan
  • Willamette
  • Meeker

The other fact that makes raspberries one of the highly valued Washington crops is the method of harvesting. Berries of a commercial variety are harvested with a machine.

Cherries

Washington State accounts for about 75% of cherry production in the US. In 2017, it produced over 344,000 tons valued at 630 million dollars. The two main varieties are Sour and sweet cherries. On average, a mature cherry tree will produce about 800 cherries.

The sweet cherry varieties are arranged by color: dark red, red, and yellow.

Cherries thrive in fertile soils. And that’s why they are grown in the Yakima Valley and Wenatchee area (both account for more than 21,500 acres). It’s estimated that about a quarter of all the cherries produced are exported and the rest are consumed locally.

Unlike other Washington crops, growing cherries is an all-year-round task. In the spring season, the buds open into flowers that attract bees for pollination. After that, a tiny fruit begins to grow. But during the early stages, it has to be protected from diseases and pests.

After the fruits ripen, they are handpicked. But what makes cherry trees unique is that they can grow up to 50 feet tall. For an acre of land, it can take about 30 people to do the job in one day.

The cost to do the picking per acre is $2400, which accounts for more than 40% of production costs. Since more than 130 million cherries are exported every year, the Washington State Department of Agriculture has zero-tolerance to a fruit fly. During harvesting, they check for the presence of insects in the packing house.

Pears

While there are more than 3000 pear varieties worldwide, a good number is grown in Washington State. The moderately warm summers make the state ideal for pear farming. Another reason why this fruit is one of the best Washington crops is the availability of a ready market.

Also, the pure glacier waters of the Cascade Mountains guarantee the best tasting pears. Some of the best varieties are:

  • Golden
  • Granny
  • Fuji
  • Red
  • Honeycrisp
  • Jonagold
  • Gala
  • Braeburn
  • Cameo
  • Pink lady

Based on the quality traits, the growing season will depend on the time harvesting begins. For instance, the harvesting of winter pears starts from august to late September. But those Asian varieties thrive well in the summer season.

Onions

Onions are grown by many farmers in Washington on a large scale. They do well in drained fertile soils and those with a high level of organic matter. And because they are shallow-rooted, most farmers plant the vegetable close to water sources. Since onion is a biennial plant, it takes two seasons to go from seed to mature onions.

The onions are harvested before they flower or before the bulb fully develops. And because they respond differently to northern latitudes, you should choose a variety that suits you best.

A key feature that makes onions one of the top Washington crops is the availability of the different varieties – from large Spanish cultivars to small varieties. Most farmers go for green onions because they are practically disease and insect-proof. And even after harvest, you’ll have bulbs for replanting.

Another common variety is the Egyptian. It produces bulbs faster and produces a cluster at the end of the stem.

When planting onions, timing is key. The sets are planted in spring which runs from March to April.

Wrapping it up

The productive soils and diverse climates make Washington one of the productive states in the world. Without a doubt, the above Washington crops account for a significant portion of the state’s economy. On average, agriculture has an economic impact of $49 billion and employs thousands of residents.