The original pioneers settled in the area around the current city of Peoria in about 1886. Settlers started planting a variety of plants to see what would grow best. Additionally, early farmers raised horses and cattle, sheep, hogs, and grew grains and alfalfa to support their livestock.
Some of the early farmers tried growing sugar beets, but the soil was not conducive to growing beets with good sugar content and the crops failed. The area supported many citrus crops and was also dotted with date, olive and pecan trees. Alfalfa had been the major crop of Peoria from the start, but after the area expanded and more farmers began to grow cotton, three gins were built in the area, and cotton became the principal crop.