Agriculture supplies many goods to sell and is important to Greeley's economy.
Greeley has many goods to sell and to export to other communities because of agriculture being an important part of our history. Some products grown in Greeley are sugar beets, corn, potatoes, onions and baby carrots. People also raise cattle, sheep, chickens and other livestock to sell as meat or dairy products.
There are services in Greeley to help support agriculture, and its goods.
Some of the services that support agriculture in our community are veterinarians, farm equipment stores, farm equipment repairs, seed companies, farm workers, food processors, food storage, and many more.
Irrigation is important for Greeley's agriculture.
If Greeley could not get water, there would not be the fields or as many livestock. As the irrigation methods improved, Greeley was able to raise more and better crops and livestock.
The first summer 25 miles of irrigation ditches were dug.
Today irrigation ditches total one thousand miles and provide water to almost 400,000 acres.
Potatoes were an important crop to Greeley.
Greeley was famous for potatoes in the late 1800's and early 1900's. People all over the United States wanted to buy Greeley potatoes. Greeley's potato growing methods are still studied all over the world.
People would make funny pictures using potatoes.
Some pictures would show a giant potato. Another might show potatoes with faces. Some of the pictures were used for advertisements.
There was a potato chip factory built in 1932.
Greeley had so many potatoes that the factory had plenty of potatoes for making chips. It was called the Greeley Spud Chip Factory. The factory was on 6th Avenue.
The first rodeo was called "Spud Rodeo."
Today the rodeo is the Greeley Stampede, but we still honor the potato. Today we celebrate Potato Days the second Saturday in September.
There was a potato blight (sickness) in the 1940's.
The blight cut down the number of potatoes grown today.
Fred P. Noffsinger invented the two row potato combine in 1942.
This machine helped farmers harvest potatoes much faster and easier. The machine would dig up the potatoes and put them up on a conveyer belt so workers could sort the potatoes apart from rocks, dirt and the vines. The potatoes were then put into sacks at the end of the belt before being sewn closed by workers. The combine could complete 1,500 - 2000 sacks a day. Ten field workers would only be able to harvest about 600 sacks total a day by hand.
The combine helped farmers to harvest their crops with fewer workers.
Many farmer's sons and farm workers were fighting in World War II. The war also stopped the Japanese from coming to work in the fields and limited the amount of German-Russians, as well.
Women were filling in other jobs because of the war. The combine made it easier and cheaper for farmers to grow potatoes.
Sugar beets were grown starting in the early 1900's.
The Great Western Sugar Beet factory opened in 1902. The factory needed sugar beets to make into sugar. Many farmers started to grow sugar beets instead of potatoes.
Growing sugar beets is hard work.
Farmers needed to hire stoop laborers to grow their crops. Immigrants began to come to Greeley to work in the fields.The first were the German-Russians. They came in 1902. Seventy German-Russians came to work that first year. After the German-Russians worked and saved money, they bought their own farms. Farmers then used Japanese as workers beginning in 1904. But many of them also saved their money and bought farms. World War II also stopped Japanese from being able to come to the USA to work. Farmers started to use workers from Mexico.
Sugar beets had to be harvested before the first frost.
The beet factory would not buy frozen or dirty beets. Harvest time was very important to get the beets in on time and to be sure they were clean. Greeley was part of the "Sugar Bowl" in northern Colorado.
Warren Monfort began to use the waste from the sugar beets to feed cattle.
Ranchers had been raising cattle in the area since the 1870's. But a couple of years of bad winter storms had most ranchers trying to think of other ways to feed the cattle. The cattle used to roam free. One of the reasons Greeley built the fence around the town in 1871 was to keep the free range cattle out of the gardens. So ranchers needed to find a better way to feed their cattle.
Warren Monfort began to feed the cattle in a contained area or feed lot.
This helped protect the cattle and keep them out of gardens and fields. It also made beef available year round. Before beef was available only in the fall after the round up.
The Monforts then made a plant close to the feed lots.
The beef could then be ready for market much quicker. Ken Monfort also introduced the idea of cutting the beef into smaller portions before selling them to the stores. This made the beef cost less money. Greeley was then known as the "Steak Capitol."
The beef processing plants and feedlots also needed workers.
Monfort Beef hired many Mexican workers from the sugar beet fields. Other companies have bought the plant, but the plant still hires immigrant workers. Today many workers are refugees from Somalia and Burma (Myanmar).
The Leprino Cheese Factory will need more milk.
As the factory starts making cheese, dairy farms may have to make more milk. The dairy cows will also need more feed, care, and more help to milk them. And the factory will also need workers. This should create more jobs based on agriculture in Greeley.
Today agriculture is still important to Greeley.
Baby carrots, onions, sugar beets, potatoes, alfalfa, and feed corn are some of the crops. The top products are in livestock. Cattle for both beef and dairy are raised along with sheep and even goats. Greeley also raises a lot of chickens.