Among the Center's major contributions to desert agriculture are the development of several crop varieties including Calmar, Imperial, and Calicel lettuce; Moapa, UC Cibola, CUF 101, and Sonora alfalfa; UC 157 asparagus; Imperial artichoke; and UC Signal barley. Many current irrigation practices, including sprinkler irrigation and the use of plastic tile for field drainage, resulted from research conducted at the Center. The Center has developed key requirements for the livestock feedlot industry, and, because of its winter climate, it is a major germplasm testing point for various agronomic and vegetable crops.
Crops of importance in the area and at the Center are alfalfa, wheat, barley, cotton, melons, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, onions, and sugarbeets. In an area where annual rainfall is less than three inches, research stresses the development of optimal irrigation-fertilization strategies that take advantage of desert conditions. The Imperial Valley has an important cattle-feeding industry, and researchers use DREC facilities to study beef and sheep feeding practices under low-desert valley conditions, where summertime temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.