University of Arizona a dot Cooperative Extension

Yuma County Farm Notes

Historical Cropping Patterns in Arizona

Mike Ottman,
Extension Agronomist, University of Arizona
August, 2001

Arizona has a long history of crop cultivation. Native Americans have been growing corn, legumes, and other crops in Arizona for hundreds of years. Barley, wheat, and melons were introduced in the late 1600's during the missionary period. Many of the crops currently grown in Arizona were first introduced in the 1800's. Forage crops, primarily alfalfa, were the first crops grown on a large scale in Arizona. Cotton cultivation was well-established by 1920. Acreage estimates were not available for vegetables until 1939 and for fruits until 1978. The average crop acreages between 1939 and 1999 were 601,000 (forage and grains), 373,000 (cotton), 94,000 (vegetables) and, since 1978, 61,000 (fruits and nuts). Between 1990 and 1999, forage and grain crop area increased by 139,000 acres, cotton area declined by 194,000 acres, vegetable area increased by 41,000 acres, and fruit and nut crop acreage remained unchanged. The increase forage and grain crops acreage was due primarily to alfalfa (35,000), other hay (10,000), barley (46,000), and corn (46,000). The increase in vegetable acreage was due primarily to romaine (9,800), broccoli (7,400), potatoes (3,100), dry onions (3,000), honeydew (1,800), and miscellaneous vegetables (12,500) especially chili, sweet corn, and spinach.

Graph of AZ historical cropping patterns (acres/year) from 1910-2000.

Full Disclaimers

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, James A. Christenson, Director Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona.

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Information provided by:
Michael Ottman, Agronomy Specialist
University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Material written May 2002.

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