Agriculture

Cattle Production - The beef industry in Colorado represents a major segment of the Colorado economy. The gross cash receipts of over $2.5 billon in cattle marketings represents over 60 percent of the states agricultural  sales. With an inventory of over 3 million beef cattle, the performance of the livestock sector has been important to the profitability of the Colorado agricultural economy.

In addition to cattle ranching, the beef industry plays an important part in other aspects of the economy as well. Cattle feeding is a large part of the agricultural economy. The beef production industry and animal by-products also employ many workers in the state.

Melon Farming - Colorado's melon production is centered in the Arkansas Valley around Rocky Ford, a name that is synonymous with cantaloupe melons. People throughout the U.S. specifically ask for Rocky Ford melons. This same region produces watermelon for the market, as well as cantaloupe and watermelon seeds, which are now shipped worldwide.

No one, not even the growers and researchers, knows for sure what makes Rocky Fords the nonpareil of melons, but after more than a century of growing experience, they have some ideas. Local farmers think it could be the hot days and cool nights, elevation, and soil type. About 2,000 acres of cantaloupes and 1,000 acres of watermelons are produced annually. Another 1,000 acres of cantaloupes are grown solely for their seeds, which are sold worldwide.

Colorado remains in the forefront of  cattle production, investing resources in research facilities to improve production and quality of the state's livestock resources. The Colorado State University Department of Animal Sciences recently established The Southeastern Colorado Research Center in Lamar in Southeast Colorado.

“Dramatic differences in the Valley’s day and night temperatures can cause some crops to accumulate more sugar, making them extra tasty.”

“The rapid transfer of irrigation water rights from the Arkansas Valley is a threat to future of the area's agriculture industry.”