The first San Luis Valley Research Center was established in 1888 – the same year the main station at Fort Collins was established – on 200 acres of state land near the Rio Grande River, seven miles east of Del Norte. In 1891 the SLVRC was moved to a location 4 2 miles north of Monte Vista. In 1896, federal funds were reduced and other financial support was unavailable. As a result, the SLVRC was closed.
In 1940, the San Luis Valley Potato Improvement Association and the San Luis Valley Potato Board of Control leased 160 acres at the present site of the research center, near the town of Center, Colorado, located nine miles north of Monte Vista and established the San Luis Valley Demonstration Farm. In 1950, the San Luis Valley Potato Improvement Association purchased the farm and subsequently deeded it to Colorado State University in 1953.
Beginning in 1940, the principal research activity was focused on selecting potato varieties adaptable to the region. In 1979 a potato breeding program was initiated to complement the selection activity. Research on cultural practices including disease and pest studies was also conducted. In the early 1920s, the Colorado Certified Seed Growers Association initiated a seed certification program located on the Colorado State University campus which was co‑located at the SLVRC in 1964.
The San Luis Valley Research Center, one of the eight off-campus centers of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station system, has a continuing commitment to the people of the San Luis Valley and the state of Colorado to provide research information, conduct extension education and seed certification programs. Such programs are designed to meet the needs of the San Luis Valley agricultural community and the many affiliated industries that comprise the agricultural production and marketing system in the area.
Strong, forward looking research and extension programs that will enable producers to be on the cutting edge of new technology are essential if the San Luis Valley is to successfully compete in current and future markets. Research, outreach, and seed certification activities for the industry are conducted principally at the SLVRC, although some complementary research is conducted by on campus faculty and staff.