High elevation growing

Guides and resources

Watercolor image of a sun beaming over mountains that are behind fields of crops

Small specialty crop producers on the Western slope have unique challenges related to short growing seasons, arid conditions, water scarcity, clay soils, cool nights, early frosts, and widely variable pest and weed pressure. They also have access to strong direct and wholesale markets that can make it all worthwhile.

The High Elevation Growing Guides project will address the production risks associated with growing specialty crops in a high-elevation, arid and short-season environment. For new and beginning farmers, additional knowledge of growing seasons, soils, season extension, irrigation, weed control, pest control, indigenous foods, seed sources, and transplant guidelines will help to minimize failures and maximize success.

An introduction to high elevation growing

For every 1,000 feet in elevation gain, the temperature drops by an average of 3.5 degrees F. This means that spring frosts are later and fall frosts are earlier. The growing season can also vary with topography, soil types, and sun exposure. To be successful, the new farmer must pay careful attention to all these factors.

Coupled with the fact that land near specialty crop markets, including population centers, tourist destinations, and popular retiree locations with reliable water, is getting more expensive, new and beginning farmers need to rapidly learn special skills to succeed.

Growing guides

Gain vital information about growing specific at elevation for beginning farmers with these printable downloads. We've created a specific guide for each crop.



    Email farmertraining@fortlewis.edu to share high-elevation resources you think should be included.