California’s Desert Research and Extension Center will celebrate its 100th birthday this year, marking more than a century of American research into arid production possibilities.
Since the turn of the century, Southwestern farmers have struggled to make a living in some of the harshest environments in the continental United States. In California’s Imperial Valley, summer temperatures in 1912 typically reached 110 degrees, making production, to say nothing of life without air conditioning, difficult.
The DREC was set up to meet the needs of the Southwest’s desert farmers. At the turn of the century, farmers in the Imperial Valley focused on dairy farming and cotton production, making less than $1 million annually. The statistics, to say nothing of the crops, have drastically changed over the last 100 years, in part thanks to the DREC.
“Moving into the next century a commitment remains to serve the public as a dedicated steward of the land in an attempt to ensure that local agricultural needs are recognized, research projects initiated, completed, documented, and disseminated,” says Alan Robertson, DREC historian.
With the nation still reeling from the effects of this summer’s devastating drought, facilities like the DREC are more important than ever. Recent trials on developing heat resistant and drought resistant crops could prove invaluable in coming years, if weather patterns continue to fluctuate wildly.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer